¡Una aventura en España!

After unpacking the souvenirs, washing all the laundry and recovering from a bit of jet lag, I finally have a moment to sit and share some details about our fantastic adventures in Spain last week!  Nipmuc sent 30 students and 5 chaperones off to the Iberian peninsula for 10 days of Spanish-speaking fun (from April 13 through April 22).  We walked a lot, ate even more and made countless memories.  Here are a few highlights:

Barcelona
I had never been to Barcelona, and was so impressed with this modern, artistic city!  We got right to visiting the city’s major monuments on our first day in Spain by walking along La Ramblas and getting acclimated.  Before heading to sleep that night, we enjoyed our first dinner in Spain – paella!  The next day was a full city tour, including some amazing stops – seeing the Sagrada Familia and the Parque Guell.  We also enjoyed some free time to explore the city for lunch!

Next, we were off to our next stop –  the capital city of Madrid!  On our way, we stopped in Zaragoza, a beautiful city with a phenomenal cathedral.  We enjoyed lunch and a visit to the cathedral before heading to Madrid.

Madrid
I think Madrid really lives up to its status as a capital city.  Students were able to learn a lot about the city as well as the country’s history by visiting the Royal Palace and seeing the Plaza Mayor and the Plaza de Toros.  Students enjoyed their first taste of tapas and we also took a group stroll to San Ginés (the oldest chocolatería in Madrid) for churros and chocolate.  Some of us (ahem…me) actually visited twice – for cultural purposes, of course.

After our visit to Madrid, we took a high speed train (called the “AVE”) to the fantastic city of Córdoba for a visit to la Mezquita (an amazing half mosque/half cathedral monument).  We enjoyed a quick walking tour of the city and lunch before heading to Sevilla.

Sevilla
Students were able to see the major monuments of Seville during a busy day of sightseeing: we started in Plaza de España, then moved to El Alcazar and Seville’s cathedral.  Many students (and even this lucky chaperone) walked up to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower for an amazing view of the city from above.  We ended our day with a great flamenco show, where students were able to listen to traditional Spanish guitar and see the iconic flamenco dance.

After Sevilla, we were off to the southern coast.  Our bus ride took us to Granada, where we were lucky enough to see La Alhambra – a Moorish palace/fortress with absolutely breathtaking gardens that were just perfectly blooming when we arrived.  La Alhambra has been on my “must see” list for a long time, and it was such a thrill to finally see it for the first time with students!

Málaga/Costa del Sol
Due to high winds and cancelled ferries, we were unable to take our scheduled excursion to Morocco.  Though this was disappointing, we were able to visit the city of Málaga instead, which was a beautiful city with lots of shopping, a gorgeous cathedral and a museum with works by Picasso!

After a 2:00 am wake up call, we headed to the airport in Málaga and flew home – tired but happy after a busy and adventurous trip!

This trip was a fantastic experience for so many reasons, but especially….

First (on a personal note) it was wonderful to see cities in Spain that I haven’t yet visited.  This trip gave me the opportunity to see some of my “bucket list” destinations, such as Barcelona and La Alhambra.  It was great to enjoy some of my favorite Spanish treats (especially jamón and churros con chocolate) and of course it’s always fun for a language nerd to be immersed in another country’s culture and language.

More importantly, however, I was able to travel with my students!  As a teacher, it was an absolute thrill to watch the 30 kids embrace a new culture and venture out of their comfort zones to use the language in authentic, real-world situations.  Students from level 2 through immersion were using the concepts we learn in class and putting them to practical use.  Before I began working in education, I actually worked for a company that designed educational tours (just like the one we took) so it was fascinating (and a lot more fun) to experience a tour from a teacher’s perspective.

Many thanks (mil gracias) to Miss Reardon for inviting me to chaperone and to our wonderful students who represented Nipmuc with maturity, cultural awareness and a fantastic adventurous spirit!

Here are some photos from our trip!

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