Spain Interim Trip 2005
Chaperone's Note: The opinions expressed in the web journals do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all the students, nor do they represent the opinions of the chaperones.
January 20, 2004 -- Lisa Sun, Nayantara Naik, and Linda Cummins
Today was probably one of the most enjoyable stops we have made yet. Although we started a bit fatigued, we were soon revitalized by excitement as we arrived at the SEK School on the outskirts of Madrid. Once there, we were amused to find a banner that read “Welcome to our Festival” hanging above a doorway. This doorway led to a room full of about 30 tittering students. We, like them, also felt anxious and awkward given the circumstances of our meeting. After a quick introductory speech explaining the Spanish school system, we broke off into groups and our tour began. Our tour guides, Touse (a friendly, athletic “ex-American”), Patricia (a sweet, very “open” girl), Lara (a very pretty, modest and cordial friend), Alicia (a shy and warm guide), George (the very “good-looking” soccer player surrounded by a small, “protective” entourage), Xavier (also a good-looking, yet goofy soccer player) and, finally, Alberto (a somewhat “self-assured” cocky BUT funny Canarian), were quick to make friends. On the tour, we visited the dormitories, high school classes, athletic facilities, stables, university and kindergarten playrooms, where we were chased out of “private territory” by, as Alberto would say, “little animals”. Our walk to the pool was also eventful. As we were listening to the guide, we were amused by an encounter with a short janitor who was “good-humoredly” whacking George with a broom. Finally, around the end of the tour, we arrived at the SEK club for a nice and mysterious lunch. Surrounded by good company, our lunch was filled with laughter and interesting stories. After lunch, farewells were difficult and pictures were taken as souvenirs of the friendships made (email addresses were also exchanged). While loading onto the bus, we had a final laugh as Xavier and Alberto willingly posed for requested photos. In good spirits, we drove to the famous REAL MADRID soccer stadium (home of the greatly adored but unfortunately unavailable, David Beckham). As we toured the stadium, and especially the locker room, we realized how great and luxurious a soccer player’s life can be. Plush seats, hot tubs and trophies galore, the team REAL MADRID appears to have it all. In remembrance of the stop, we, the students, cheerfully purchased BECKHAM jerseys and posters. The rest of the day was given to us at leisure, our last leisure time of the trip. Many of us spent it well by shopping and others preferred a siesta.
Mon, Jan 19 - Madrid.
We have a chilly, but otherwise perfect, day in Madrid. The students are particularly excited that there is a Planet Hollywood restaurant down the street.
Sunday, January 18, 2004 -- Salamanca, Segovia and Madrid
Blaise Falcon and Jeremy Nichols
Today we left the university town of Salamanca on our way to Segovia and later to Madrid. It was nice to sleep on the bus, or listen to music, or watch the landscape turn white with snow. On the way to Madrid we stopped in La Granja to visit the royal glass factory where glass was made for the kings and queens of Spain a long time ago. It was really hot inside because of all the fires in the factory, like walking around in a kiln. Most of us were sad when we had to leave because it had become very windy and significantly colder outside. The highlight of the day was a tie between the little snow that fell upon us as we walked back to the bus from the museum, and the architectural masterpiece that is the Segovia Aqueduct. The two thousand year existence of this monument that has stood so valiantly through the centuries and given so much to the people of the city it stands in was comparable to the joy we felt when the snow fell. Finally arriving in Madrid with leisure time before dinner, most went out for coffee or took a siesta. The traditional tapas dinner was pleasing.
Jan. 17: Salamanca, Day 2
Menaka Iyer and Katie Decker
Today, we got off to the right start by being treated to a 9:45 wake-up call and a delicious breakfast. At 10:45, we began our walking tour though the beautiful town of Salamanca. Our local tour guide, Ines, and Pablo, took us to a small travel store where we all received little travel bags. We then visited the Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral) and the Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral). The Old Cathedral was built in the 12th century and the New Cathedral was built in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. We learned of ancient traditions and art/architecture styles used in both the Old and New Cathedral. Our favorite lesson of that visit was the long-held tradition in Salamanca for those seeking to become a doctor. In order to receive their Ph.D. they were asked to spend one night in a room with only one small window in the Old Cathedral without falling asleep. The next day, they were asked a series of questions and if answered correctly, would receive their Ph.D. and the chance to walk through the Puerta Grande, a privilege reserved only to those with a Ph.D. They were then treated to celebrations lasting two or three days throughout the city. Next stop was the University of Salamanca. We visited classrooms and walked around campus. The best part of the University was the façade of the front of the building. The artist of the façade sculpted a small frog in one corner and Salamancans say that if a visitor can find the frog, they are assured luck for the rest of their lives. We all found the frog (after a little guidance by Pablo). Because of that superstition, frog merchandise can be bought on every corner in Salamanca. After the university, we were given 30 minutes or so of free time, We all got hot chocolate and cake to prepare ourselves for the long, cold walk to the Plaza Meyor, the main square of Salamanca. We all went to lunch in small groups and had free time to shop and explore the city until 5:30, when we met back at the hotel to visit the Art Deco Museum of Salamanca. At the museum we were given a list of 26 questions to answer by searching through all the exhibits. We finished in a couple hours and went back to the hotel. We were all surprised when Mr. Rawson announced that we also had dinner at leisure! A few people went to a Chinese restaurant, some to Italian, and we found a great American sports bar. I think we all wanted a change from tapas and paella. Back in our room at around 11, we went to sleep, eagerly awaiting the next few days in Madrid.
January 16 -- Caceres to Salamanca
--Kim Mead and Alex Dalton
Today was a slow and rather uneventful day, which can be the best kinds of days because they give you the opportunity to rest and collect yourself. Our wake up call was at 8:45, and after dressing and a quick breakfast, we students met up with our local guide, Marco, and we explored the city of Caceres. Caceres has been for the most part, preserved, except for the 18 bombs, which were dropped on it in 1936, causing some of the buildings to crack. The patron Saint of Caceres is St. George. He is always depicted ridding a horse and fighting a dragon. Our (Alex and Kim) favorite aspect of the city were the storks, which nested on the tops of bastions and churches. Marco even said that one day last year a heavy nest fell and killed a man while walking down the street. What a horrible way to go! Later we went into a church where people were still buried in the floor. It completely grossed us out when Pablo (our cool and well dressed guide for the entire trip) said that the stench of the corpses, along with the church visitors due to poor hygiene, became so strong that the church had to constantly burn incense. After going through the insanely small alleys, we loaded onto the bus and drove 20 minutes to the countryside to see a contemporary art museum of Vostell Malpartida. Outside of it was a gorgeous, manmade lake. Our favorite piece in the museum was a car, which represented oppressive countries (like the United States), surrounded by empty, porcelain plates. The plates represented the third world countries. There were rakes and levers connected to the car exploiting the poorer countries. Like all other days of the trip, we once again loaded onto the bus to go eat. For lunch we had an insanely large four-course meal. Our lunch consisted of a salad, casserole, pork, and an apple tart. What we ate most though, was the warm white bread. Next we drove a whopping 4 hours to Salamanca, which included a sketchy stop at a smoky bar to go to the bathroom. After we arrived and settled into our new hotel called the Palacio de Castellanos everyone gathered in the lobby for a heated discussion about what the group would do for dinner. Everyone ended up deciding on Pizza Hut pizza. Finally, after finishing a late dinner, we headed up to our rooms and watched Harry Potter, miserably dubbed in Spanish, then went to bed.
January 15, 2004-------Jabuga, Merida, Caceres
Haley Lyons and Kelly Lartigue
After waking up at 6:45 just to put our bags outside for the porters, we all got to sleep in for a little while longer, just to be woken up again to hurry downstairs for breakfast. After we finished eating at the hotel, we left Sevilla for Jabugo. When we arrived at Jabugo 2 hours later, we visited the Finca Sanchez Romero Carvajal pigs. Grupo Osborne is the largest distributor of cured ham products, and we were able to witness the process in a smelly and wet factory. After putting on white garbage bags, butcher hats, and shoe covers we all walked around feeling a little awkward and stupid, but we had fun all the same. We even saw the 100 cured hams that will be served at Prince Felipe’s wedding. The average cost of a ham is around $400, and if bought from a market they can cost up to $600. The process takes around 4 years because the pigs are first raised, then killed when they are about 18 months old. To put a long process in a few words, the hams are salted, and then hung to dry for about 2 years. Then, we headed down to the restaurant owned by Grupo Osborne, Meson 5 Jotas. At the Meson 5 Jotas, we were able to taste cured ham and many other products made by Grupo Osborne, including their three varieties of pate. After a lunch that everyone seemed to enjoy, we were back on the bus and headed to Merida. Upon arriving in Merida, we unloaded the bus only to find ourselves walking in the pouring rain to the Archaeological Museum and the National Museum of Roman art. When we arrived at the museum, we met our guide Marco Mangut who led us through the two museums explaining certain artifacts such as urn, a box to put the ashes of dead people with a hole above the top so that people could offer the dead things such as perfume. After viewing the museums, we walked to the bus, still in the pouring rain, and loaded the bus ready to leave for Caceres.
When we arrived at Caceres we checked in to the hotel and met for dinner at the hotel an hour later. Dinner was interesting. First we were served stuffed eggplants with cheese on top, and then for our entrée we each ate an entire fish. Literally the fish looked as if they had just been caught, heated, and put on a plate. They had bones, eyes, tongues--it was very appetizing. [Chaperone’s note: the fish was delicious!] We had a type of cheesecake for desert, and then we all went up to our rooms to catch up on some sleep.
-Haley and Kelly
Tues, January 13 Seville
Highlights from Sevilla :
-- Celebrating a birthday in Spain with a special dessert, followed by a flamenco performance.
-- Students stop along the way during tour of Sevilla
-- Students catch a view high above Sevilla in the cathedral tower
Sevilla--January 13, 2004
After enjoying the much-needed sleep, we started our day by visiting the Alcazar Palace in Sevilla. The palace is very beautiful; it is very similar to the Alhambra, which we saw in Granada. We learned a lot about the architecture, which had many Moorish and Christian influences. Next, we visited the Jewish Quarter with its tiny courtyards and winding streets. We had a rest stop where the majority of our group enjoyed great hot chocolate and coffee. The Cathedral in Sevilla was our last tour of the day. It's an enormous and stunning church full of many different architectural styles. We climbed the 35 floors of the Cathedral to see the view from the top. The top of the Cathedral looked over the entire city of Sevilla, giving us many memorable photos. By one o'clock the entire tour was over and we had some time at leisure to explore Sevilla on our own. We shopped, ate lunch, and walked around for what seemed like the entire city. After our leisure time, we proceeded to Taberna del Alabardero to watch a cooking lesson on paella and gazpacho. They were both very tasty and filling that when Ms. Reid offered the option to stop at McDonald's after the meal, almost everyone declined. Hopefully the next time we make gazpacho and paella on our own it will come out just as good. Most of the afternoon was full of many of our own adventures, but we also learned a lot about the city of Sevilla.
-- Holly Blalock and Kelly Hayden
Monday, January 12
Ronda to Seville
This morning we left Ronda, and made a fun, fun drive to our first stop, Jerez. Here, we saw the Andalusian horses being trained. We headed to the town square for lunch. After waiting an eternity for expensive Chef Boyardee ravioli, we got back on the bus and made our way to Cadiz. Our journey to Cadiz was prolonged because Pablo, our tour guide, would not allow EHP to use the emergency restroom on the bus (this bathroom was only for “technical” emergencies). In Cadiz, we wandered over to a restaurant overflowing with Fanta labels. The customers were sitting at a Fanta table, with Fanta chairs, drinking Fanta drinks. While on the bus, RK checked out a book from the small AND bilingual library, graciously provided by Pablo, and studied several maps of the area. After this, we journeyed to Cadiz, where we saw the place where Halle Berry emerged from the ocean in the orange bathing suit. Needless to say, the boys (JN, BF and RK) quickly jumped out of the bus to snap pictures. We left Cadiz, the oldest city in Spain, and a few hours later, arrived in Seville. Here two more students joined our party, SL and KM, after a long exhausting plane ride. We ate dinner at El Patio Seville, the best dinner ever. Except EP and freaked out when KK ripped an eye off a shrimp and offered it to her on a platter, nothing out of the ordinary for dinner behavior for KK. After dinner we were entertained with Flamenco dancing. The show was great; however, the sophomores would not stop laughing and talking the whole show despite Ms. Reid’s constant shushing. But, the elder members on the trip enjoyed the whole show thoroughly and EHP and KK gave standing ovations at the end of the show. And, as the saying goes the show was not over until the fat lady sings!
—Kristin Kelly and Erin Paxson
January 11, 2004-- Ronda
Today we woke up early at 6:45 and got all our bags on the bus. We had a delicious breakfast at the hotel AC Palacio de anta Paula. We drove on the bus for two or three hours enjoying the extra time to sleep.
After we arrived in Ronda we went on a tour of the city, admiring the cliff it is built on top of. We saw its impressive bullring and took lots of pictures. The weather was warmer than usual, so we quickly took off all our warm coats and sweatshirts. We walked to the bridge that makes Ronda famous. It was very large, extending over a deep gorge. We had lunch at leisure and we explored the city (in groups of three or more of course). We went to visit a cortijo, (farm), and saw the people who managed the 600 pigs. We saw goats and chickens and got a feeling for what it is like to own a farm in Spain. We went back to the hotel to get ready for a night on the town, not expecting the cool weather that surprised us as we began walking around. We went to a central square and picked restaurants to eat at. We went back to the hotel after dinner and we packed up and got ready for another wonderful day in Spain!
(Lauren Marsh and Sallie Houston)
January 10, 2004—Granada, day 2
Today was an awesome day - everyone started out in a great mood from the little bit of extra sleep that we got, since we didn’t start the day until 10. Everyone was also happy about getting to ride the bus to the Alhambra instead of repeating the four hour uphill climb from the day before. Our tour guides, Rosa and Antonio, met us to start our tour. We were in Antonio’s group. We went through the Alhambra, seeing all the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, political, military, and leisure aspects that it contains. Antonio was very…informative and detailed. He definitely knows a lot and was passionate about what he was explaining to us, seeing as he forgot to give us our snack break. My (KT’s) favorite parts were the views and the gardens and fountains. Then we went to lunch at a nearby hotel.
The afternoon was pretty relaxed. We spent some time at a small church, the burial place of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel, and King Felipe I and Queen Juana. We also saw a large cathedral, where we were free to walk around and look for ourselves. We also got to check out a small market. I found some parts to be a little sketchy, but we had fun. Tonight was our first “dinner at leisure.” Our group had an awesome meal. The sophomore girls and the freshmen went with Mrs. Reid to a nearby pizzeria. The food was so good—V and I had some flashbacks to last interim term in Italy. We basically had the place to ourselves so we had a lot of fun hanging out and talking. We came home, packed, and went to bed so that we could be ready for our trip to Ronda the next day.
Jan 9: From Barcelona to Granada
Today we woke up at 4:30, received breakfast on the run, and headed to the airport for our flight to Granada. We arrived around 9 am. We checked into our hotel and immediately, without rest, began a 4 hour walking tour of the Albycin Quarter with guides Rosa and Antonio. Even though we were exhausted, we enjoyed ourselves and learned about Granada’s history. Along the way we encountered a plethora of stray animals and one of us almost had a nasty encounter with a speeding moped. The high point of the tour was the magnificent view of the Alhambra, an ancient palace and fortress. The tour ended at 2 and we had a leisurely lunch in small groups near the hotel.
After lunch, we had a very well appreciated siesta and caught up on our journals, hooray! At night, we went for a little shopping and a little tea. Told to stay together and watch our belongings, we stayed vigilant for “sketchy” locals and pickpockets. Our night concluded with dinner at Las Tomassas, and a view of the Alhambra. From abrupt phone calls to playing the water glasses, the dinner was full of fun.
Jan 7, and 8: Barcelona
After our long plane ride, we arrived at the Hotel Colon and immediately set off for an introductory tour of Barcelona. We went to Montjuic, a beautiful mountain park with over 400 types of cactus. We got an amazing panoramic view of the city from the top. The mountain is also home to the Olympic village of the 1992 games. Plus, many interesting architectural structures, such as a large white communications tower, are situated here. We returned to the hotel in time to change, take a nap, and for the first time in 24 hours, two plane rides, and a bus tour, we got to take a shower. We had dinner that night in the Gothic Quarter, and had lots of fun making toasts to the trip. We all collapsed once we got back to the hotel.
On Thursday, we began with a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter, starting with the Cathedral, located next to our hotel. We even got to go to the top of the building, which provided a great view. We walked in the Quarter for a while and finally ended up at the Picasso Museum. By the time we had all become art experts, we headed back to the area of the hotel for lunch. People chose from a variety of places, from Paella to Pizza Hut. After lunch we regrouped and boarded the bus to the Sagrada Familia, a large, incomplete church designed by Gaudi. This church exemplifies the modernist period, with large undulating balconies and tall steeples. While we were there, we did our cardio for the trip. We climbed for over 10 minutes, but it felt like much more. At the top, we saw a breathtaking view of Barcelona. And then we climbed down. At the bottom, everyone was out of breath and their legs were shaking. After this, we continued our day of Gaudi by visiting a park he designed on the outskirts of Barcelona. It was originally a project funded by his wealthy patron, Guell. He intended for 60 houses to be built, but because it was so far outside the city at the time, only 3 houses were ever built. Today the park is open to the public and the 3 beautiful houses are still in use.
Following the park we took some time off for shopping. We went to Las Ramblas, but many decided to hold off on their purchasing until Madrid. However, the Barcelona branches of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Zara were favorites. Not everyone shopped, as some continued the tour of modernist architecture and some took a much needed coffee break. Shopping and sight seeing concluded, we retired to the hotel, exhausted, to change and then walk to dinner. At dinner, we were dazzled by the interesting assortment of tapas we were served. Finally, we walked back to our hotel and fell into a deep three hour slumber, ready to wake up early to fly to Granada. More to come. . . .