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News From Our Traveling Students 

Spring 2018


Grade 7 Italy Trip

 Day 6 -  Assisi

Assisi is beautiful. We arrived in Assisi early and took a tour of the basilica and a medievil castle. The views were spectacular and our pizza lunch was outstanding. The students also had time for Italian the Gelato Bar and a little shopping.



Day 5 - Orvieto

We took a short bus ride up to the small hill town of Orvieto. We went down the well and up the clock tower for a beautiful view of the town. Then we took a tour of underground caves and saw an authentic oil press. Later we walked around town to take in all the beautiful scenery and shops.  


Day 4 - Monte Cassino Abbey

We said goodbye to the wonderful Italian beach town of Paestum and headed north. We stoped at the famous Monte Cassino Abbey and the polish cemetery. We learned about history of the Abby including the battle of Monte Cassino during WWII and why it was so controversial. We then made our way to Todi to stay for the next 3 nights. It was warm enough for swimming and as you can see, the view from our hotel is spectacular.


Day 3 - Pompeii

We had a wonderful walk through the ancient ruins of Pompeii. The weather was a little rainy but was good enough to have a great time and learn about the ancient city.  We ended our stay in Paestum with a fantastic meal and gelato.  


Day 2 - Paestum
Our 2nd day in Paestum featured an afternoon at the Paestum ruins, and the museum. 

We also made a stop at the WWII memorial and many went swimming where the American paratroopers landed in 1943. We had another wonderful dinner and no one went to bed hungry.   :o)


Day 1 - Paestum
We arrived in Rome around 8am this morning had a great lunch and plenty of time for the beach, play practice and the some journal work. Dinner is always amazing here in Paestum and we made it an early night to prepare for tomorrow's adventure at the ruins of Paestum.

Grade 8 Spain Trip

Day 11!
Last day in Malaga and farewell.


Day 8!

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.

These pictures are dark, but even if you can't see clearly, everyone is smiling!


Day 7!

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!

Afterwards, we headed to the town plaza for lunch and time to journal. We then toured the rest of the town, and sat in the Jardin Romantico for more journaling and reflection. After some time, we boarded the buses back to Granada College, and even made time to play a little more futbol! Tomorrow we head up the hillside to the world-famous Alhambra!



Day 6!

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.




Day 4
¡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!


Day 3

Buenos Dias!
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 2
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!


Day 1
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
Dinner                                                                                                      Dinner


Grade 8 France Trip

Day 5

For how crazy yesterday afternoon and evening were, today was heavenly relaxed and full of exploration! While we did classic France trip activities such as the bateau mouche on the Seine, Notre Dame, sketching, and Berthillon ice cream, we also did some brand new things for the first time. We stopped at St. Germain des Pres for lunch and explored the recently renovated abbey (which dates back to 500), saw the narrowest street in Paris, and stopped in at Shakespeare and Company bookstore! It was a great day!


Day 4

What a day! I think everyone will sleep well tonight. The day started out warmly and wonderfully as we met at Pascale for the first time to see how their first nights "en famille" went. We then walked to Marché de Passy, one of Paris' remaining covered markets before continuing on to the Eiffel Tower. What a view from the top today! That was followed up by visiting and sketching the Arc de Triomphe! The free time on the Champs Elysees was unfortunately cut short by a rain and hailstorm of biblical proportion. While it cut our free time short, it extended our day by 2-3 hours as all metro were shut down in our direction. An eventful day to say the least.


Day 3

 Day 3 of the French trip saw us leave Brittany and Normandy to head for Paris! Before Paris though, we stopped in Giverny to see Monet's home and gardens. We then arrived in Paris and the kids went off with their families to begin the formal exchange!


Day 2

Another gorgeous day in Brittany which took us to Normandy and Mont St Michel! A wonderful tour of the Abbey was followed by a return to Brittany and an afternoon spent in St Malo, picnicking, sketching, beaching, and exploring. We concluded the day by returning to Dinan for dinner and then exploring more of the old town and ramparts. Paris tomorrow!


Day 1
A long day in France began with a bus ride from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Arromanches, on the Normandy coast. The kids had free time to get lunch and then we moved onto the American cemetery above Omaha Beach. Our sketches here are one of the hallmarks of the trip, but this year they will also be researching the person whose marker they sketched. From there we continued onto Dinan, in Brittany. We finished our first day in France with some wonderful exploration of the old town. Sunset at 10 p.m.!




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