Happy New Year! In case you need any more convincing to take the leap and teach in Spain in 2023, here it is: you get three full weeks off from school in December and January (and yes, you still get the full monthly salary). I was off for the whole first week of December due to Spanish Constitution Day (12/6) and the Day of the Immaculate Conception (12/8). Then school paused for two weeks for the holidays, from December 22nd to January 9th. I took full advantage of the time off, traveling to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest the first week of December and going home to Philadelphia for the holidays.
Prague- Friday 12/2 - Sunday 12/4
I arrived in Prague to a temperature of 0॰C (aka freezing), snow falling and the sun setting at 4 PM. It was a shock to the system for sure, but getting to see Prague was more than worth it. (In my opinion, it’s a must-see in Europe.) My favorite sights were the John Lennon Wall, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock. The city was decked out for Christmas, so I also spent lots of time wandering through various Christmas markets, trying new food and drink and browsing the items for sale. It was really cool to experience Prague at Christmastime, but if you aren't a fan of the cold I'd recommend you go in the spring or summer.
Vienna- Sunday 12/4 - Tuesday 12/6
Fun fact: Vienna is just a four hour bus ride from Prague. Not so fun fact: I nearly missed the bus and had to run across a freeway and up to the bus as it was pulling out in order to make it. I did make it to Vienna, though, and I got to see the sights: Hundertwasserhaus, Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Parliament Building, to name a few. The entire city was decorated for Christmas, with lights on seemingly every street and Christmas markets spread throughout. Viennese food is really good, too. The soft pretzels were amazing and I thought schnitzel was pretty good.
Bratislava- Tuesday 12/6 - Thursday 12/8
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and is just one hour from Vienna by train. I didn’t know it existed until I was looking at the other three cities on the map, saw the name Bratislava in bold right by Vienna and decided to add it to my itinerary. And wow, am I glad that I did. Bratislava is a relatively small city (you only need a day or two there), but it’s very charming and full of cool things to see. Some of my favorites were Slavín (World War II memorial) and the Old Town, which is home to St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Old Town Hall and St. Elizabeth’s Blue Church (a church that for some reason is completely blue).
Budapest- Thursday 12/8 - Saturday 12/10
It was a three hour bus ride from Bratislava to Budapest. (And no freeways were sprinted across this time in the quest to find the bus.) I wish I spent more than just two days there because Budapest is a big city and I didn’t get to do everything that I wanted to. I did see some pretty cool sights, though, like the Parliament Building, Fisherman’s Bastion and the Great Market Hall. Speaking of market halls, the food in Budapest is incredible. I made sure to try lots of traditional Hungarian foods, like chicken paprikash (chicken in a paprika sauce, my favorite!), trifle, langos (fried bread) and sour cherry strudel.
Philadelphia- Thursday 12/22 - Friday 1/6
Because I got a good chunk of time to travel at the beginning of December and because I can’t imagine not being home for Christmas, I went home for the duration of the two-week holiday break. For me, home is the Philadelphia suburbs. Two weeks was the perfect amount of time at home. I got to catch up with everyone that I wanted to and still had plenty of time to relax, but by the time the two weeks was up, I was ready to come back to Madrid. If you do choose to go home, I definitely recommend coming back a few days before school starts again to adjust to the time difference.
As you can see, December and January are a great time to be an auxiliar in Madrid. With three full weeks off, you are provided with the opportunity to see more of Spain, travel to other countries, go home to the United States, experience the holidays in another part of the world and/or just relax. Just another reason to take the leap and teach in Spain in 2023!