Last day in Malaga and farewell.
Today we started at with a nice lengthy hike up the hillside to the Alhambra, which has been occupied for over 1,200 years. We began with a walk around the Generalife, a beautiful garden and palace with views of the Albaicin, where we viewed the Alhambra earlier in the week.
Next, we went to the central palace, where the students viewed stunning Moor architecture and more gardens, and took in even more impressive views.
After lunch, we went to the Alcazaba where the most stunning views of all of Granada can be seen. Multiple students said how much they didn't want to leave! With panoramic views of the plains as well as the Sierra Nevadas, that is definitely understandable.
Once we did exit the Alhambra, we hiked back down to Granada, and eventually parted with the students for the weekend. Our next update will be on Monday, as they have the weekend to spend with their Spanish families.Day 7!
These pictures are dark, but even if you can't see clearly, everyone is smiling!
Today we went to the town of Niguelas in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We began with an informative tour of an olive farm where the students picked some olives and tasted them straight from the tree (spoiler alert: not good!). Next, our tour guide explained about the history of olives and olive oil in Spain, and the fact that olive oil has been produced continuously in Niguelas for over 500 years. After drinking natural spring water from the Sierra Nevadas in the town square, the students toured the oldest olive oil mill in Spain. They then sat down for a formal olive oil tasting, which included even dessert olive oil!
After picking up our students from Granada College, we boarded the bus for El Parque de Ciencias in Granada. There we spent time in exhibits ranging from robotics, to the human body, to the animal world, and more. Next, we watched a show about bird of prey, and some of our students had a falcon fly so close they felt its wings! Afterwards, we viewed a show on exploring the galaxy at the planetarium, and made time to journal about our activities that day.
We returned to Granada College in the afternoon, where our students shared in a pizza party with their host students. They discovered that tuna pizza is a thing here! They also had a chance to participate in a flamenco dance tutorial, and then ended the day playing fútbol, basketball, or field hockey with their exchange students. Once the school day ended, they headed home for the day. Tomorrow we head out to Níguelas!
Day 5 - Granada
This morning we greeted the students at Granada College, and all seemed to have had a great first night with their host families! Afterwards, we boarded a bus for downtown Granada, where we walked through the streets and plazas on our way to the Capilla Real de Granada and the Catedral de Granada. The Capilla Real contains the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, and was built 500 years ago. The Catedral is a massive, beautifully ornate cathedral, with a stunning dome. Our students were able to take some time and journal and sketch in the pews while taking in the sight.
Afterwards, we headed out for a lunch together at Nuevo Restuarante, and headed to meet our tour guide for the Albaicin. The students toured the hillside neighborhood and learned about its history as well as its relationship to the Alhambra across the river. After making the climb to the top of the Albaicin, students were able to take pictures at one of the most scenic places in Granada, offering vistas of the Alhambra, Sierra Nevadas, and the city of Granada.
Next, as we began the climb down the Albaicin it began to thunderstorm! We ended up sheltering from the storm just outside of the Bib Rambla, the most important plaza in Granada. Once the thunder subsided, students were able to go around the shops and cafes and try to dry off from the storm. Soon after we were on the bus back to Granada College to reunite with the Spanish students and families.
¡Hola de Granada!
Today was pretty straightforward: we packed up our stuff, ate breakfast, boarded a bus for Granada College, and said, "¡Adios!" to Madrid. About halfway to our destination, we stopped to eat lunch at a roadside cafeteria. Afterwards, we completed our journey to scenic Granada College. Their campus is beautiful, with panoramic views of the Sierra Nevadas as well as the surrounding farmland.
Our students were reunited with their Spanish counterparts and had a short celebration including cake and juice. Both groups of students were very happy to see each other, and there were a lot of hugs and excited conversation. Afterwards, they left with their exchange families to begin their week in Granada. We look forward to seeing them in the morning and talking about their first night with their Spanish families!
Today was an amazing end to our time here in Madrid. We began the day by attending El Rastro, one of the oldest continuous outdoor markets in Europe. Students shopped around, looking at items both very new and very old. Next, we returned to the Plaza Mayor for more browsing and, eventually, lunch!
After a quick stop at the hotel, we boarded the Metro for Estadio Wanda Metropolitano to see Atletico Madrid face off with Espanyol. The energy and sound of the stadium was amazing, with the constant chants, horns, and concerted stomps. As fun as any MLB, NBA, or NFL game is, there is certainly a different kind of pride and feeling to seeing top-flight European soccer. Despite their best efforts (and the cheering of the students), Atletico fell to Espanyol, 0-2.
After returning to the hotel to clean up, we headed out for dinner before the final activity of our trip in Madrid: the flamenco show. Set in a room not much larger than the middle school commons, Corral de la Moreria is known as "the most famous Tablao Flamenco in the World." The pride and artistry demonstrated by the singers, musicians, and dancers captivated the audience, and quickly turned many of our students into fans of the flamenco!
Upon leaving, we discovered that is was raining fairly heavily outside. To many groups of students, the prospect of a 20 minute walk home in the rain would put a damper on their night; not this group! As we hurriedly rushed back to the hotel, the students showed their interpretations of the flamenco they just witnessed, dancing, singing, and laughing all the way back to the hotel!
Despite being soaking wet, it was a great end to our time here in Madrid. We look forward to continuing our Spanish adventure tomorrow was we travel to Granada!
Atlético de Madrid game Ian and Miles in the stadium talking
about the history of the club.
Day two here in Madrid began with breakfast at the hotel, as well as a morning meeting where we discussed cultural differences from the day before as well as a preview of the day's activities. Next, we walked to the Museo del Prado, one of the most renowned art museums in the world. Inside, our students toured the masterpieces of Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch, among others. The students had time to study a chosen work, and draw their interpretation of it in their art sketchbooks.
Next, we walked to the Atocha train station. At the station, we discussed the March 11, 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid, and the students were able to enter the memorial. It was a somber and profound moment, one that the students recognized and respected.
After a lunch of delicious jámon y/o queso bocadillos, we went to the Reine Sofia, a modern art museum. There students had a chance to view many of Picasso's work, including his seminal "Guernica," as well as works from many other modern artists. A favorite among them were the surrealist works of Salvador Dali, which the students treated as a puzzle that had to be solved.
Once we left the Reina Sofia, we went to the Parque del Retirio. Students were able to sample local food and culture, and experience a Saturday afternoon and evening in one of the hubs of Madrid. We ended our time at the park with some journaling, and headed back towards the hotel for dinner and to retire for the night. Tomorrow, we have our last exciting adventures here in Madrid!
We have just completed our first day here in Madrid, Spain! Our day started off about 36 hours ago, with our initial flight to Amsterdam being delayed by nearly two hours. Despite the delay, the students handled it very well, and we had an uneventful flight to our connection. After our airline helpfully expedited our group through customs, we flew to Madrid to begin our time here in Spain.
After checking into the Hostal Persal, we headed out towards the Palacio Real de Madrid, stopping to have a lovely three-course lunch where students dined on traditional favorites like pasta and ribs as well as some local delicacies like paella and shark! After lunch we arrived at the Palacio, where students took in the incredible architecture and views, writing in their journals as well as some drawing on their sketching pads. Next, we took a guided tour of the Palacio, seeing such sights as the throne room, the dining room, and the various priceless tapestries and art, as well as the incredibly detailed architecture. Our tour guide remarked that this was one of the best student tour groups she has ever had the pleasure of working with!
We next headed over to the Teleferìco de Madrid, where students had an over mile-long gondola lift view of Madrid, which includes incredible sights both of natural beauty and of the city itself. It turns out there is still significant snow on the mountains outside of the city. Definitely different than Bethesda right now!
Afterwards, we walked down the Calle Gran Via, allowing the students to take in the varied architecture and culture of the city. After stopping in the Puerta Del Sol to soak in the vibrancy of the city, we headed to the beautiful Plaza Mayor for dinner. As the night grew long, we headed back to the hotel, where our weary travelers eagerly headed off to bed. Tomorrow we begin another adventure here in Madrid, and we look forward to telling you all about about it!
Boarding the plane Amsterdam to Madrid
Placida Real of Madrid
Lunch Plaza España