By Carly Cutrara
The airplane rumbles as the wheels touchdown after a 9-hour flight. All the rainbow colored airport signs are in Spanish and everyone in the surrounding areas is speaking Spanish rapidly.
Julie Johnson and her group of 45 people composed of students and chaperones who are dressed in shorts and t-shirts parade through the enormous multi-colored walkways and grey walls contained within the airport. Their 5-foot, 6-inch tour guide is wearing a maroon fuzzy sweater and has boyish cut short, black hair.
The juniors, seniors, and chaperones pile into an enormous coach bus as the journey begins in Toledo. After they will travel to Ronda, Mijas, Granada, Córdoba, Seville, and Madrid.
The students spent two days exploring Toledo and started getting their first glimpse at the culture of a Latin American country.
‘‘My favorite city was Toledo because of the cobblestone roads and I liked that the streets were so narrow that you could touch both sides but I did not enjoy how most of the streets went uphill at some point,” said senior Linnea Johnson. “I also really enjoyed the fruit market. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. We probably spent the most amount of time in Toledo. The first day we did a scavenger hunt in the city in groups which helped us to really get to know our way around Toledo.’’
Many of the students were surprised in Toledo when they found a McDonald’s in the main square. It allowed the students to see how American culture has influenced other cultures.
After appreciating Toledo in all its glory, the student piled into the bus again for a 3-hour bus ride to Ronda, which is a smaller city that has a huge gorge and a very famous bullring. The students went on tours with guides, learning the history of Ronda while stopping for some shopping and succulent churros and chocolate. After spending a night in Ronda, they headed off to Granada but made a pitstop in the touristy town of Mijas for some lunch and more shopping.
‘‘Mijas was absolutely adorable, from the white washed buildings, to the donkeys, to the little shops,’’ said senior Amber Bowman. “Also the altitude that Mijas had was crazy. Looking at all the white washed buildings ascending up the hill was a spectacle.”
When they arrived in Granada, they immediately walked downtown and went sightseeing with the help of Jenan, their tour guide for the whole trip. After they learned flamenco dancing in a dark but authentic gypsy cave, they had the ability to see professional flamenco dancers for dinner and a show. Subsequently, the group got a glimpse at the Alhambra, a palace in Granada, and they got to capture all its beauty at night with lights reflecting off the building by using their phones and cameras. The following day they explored the inside of the Alhambra.
‘‘My favorite historical site was by far the Alhambra. No doubt about it,’’ Bowman said. “The architecture was out of this world. The ceilings were either beautifully carved or painted. The floor was even marble in one section. The nature of the whole thing was gorgeous. Everything about it was definitely a sight to behold. Each room was so unique it was like stepping into another world”.
After another long bus ride, the students arrived in Córdoba which housed the world famous Mezquita with cascading arches that looked like candy canes. After time in the town to shop and eat yet again more ice cream, they returned to the bus and arrived in their second to last city, Seville. While in Seville the group visited the Alcazar which is the most famous royal palace in Seville. They also got to visit the tomb of Christopher Columbus which is located in the Seville Cathedral. Within the Seville Cathedral, there is a 343-foot tall tower that is climbed by using ramps. Once at the top, all of Seville can be viewed at once. After two nights in Seville they visited their last stop, Madrid.
The students liked Madrid the most because they had the most amount of free time. While in Madrid they visited various historical sites that they had learned about in Spanish 4. They visited the Prado Museum, the Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de Oriente, the Puerta del Sol, but the most important and coolest thing they visited was the Palacio Real.
The Palacio Real is where state ceremonies are held. It is also where valuable items that belonged to the King and Queen are stored. The Palacio Real contains 3,418 rooms but only a few are available for public viewing. The rooms feature a variety of art, styles, furniture, and much more. The most interesting to see were the throne room, the room where the crown is held, and the room that contains the world’s only complete Stradivarius quartet (orchestra instruments). Many believe the King and Queen live in the Palacio Real, but they actually live in the Zarzuela Palace located just outside of Madrid. The students were disappointed when they had to leave Spain, but when their families came into view at the airport, their mouths were upturned, and they were running towards them. The 10-day trip had finally come to an end.