North America, Europe · 9 Days · 18 Moments · April 2018

Spain Spring Break 2018!

11 April 2018

DAY 10: On our way back to Philadelphia! (Or Filadelfia en español :) Today was a very early day for travel and after a few hours of airport exploration, we are on our way back home! See you all soon and please look out for a text from you student that we are on the bus back to MHS! 🇪🇸✈️🇺🇸

10 April 2018

DAY 9: How quickly our trip flew by, and today we found ourselves on our last day in Spain for Spring Break 2018! We spent the last day thoroughly exploring Toledo, a city famous for its large amount of cathedrals, leather and marzipan products, and gorgeous views from high points. We took photos from the windy roads leading up to the old city and then visited a unique cathedral with golden relics and 10 functioning pipe organs. We got to hear a performance from a local organists and even our MHS teachers went up to the keyboard and played a bit :) While the rain dampened our outdoor concert plans, we got some extra time to roam around the shops and try some Iberian ham and various locally made goat and sheep cheeses. Later in the evening, we had the treat of seeing a live flamenco dancing performance in our hotel and then went up to pack and get ready for a day in transit tomorrow! USA, here we come!

9 April 2018

More photos of student from DAY 8!
DAY 8: Food in Madrid was white an adventure! Some of us chose to eat at quaint cafes on the plaza mayor square, but others went for the San Miguel Market, a covered market where we could by endless tapas and small plates with a delicious and great quality preparation. We also had the breakfast served at the hotel, which has a large variety of cheeses. It is fairly common to eat cheese for breakfast here and the variety at this hotel is vast! We also tried churros for breakfast, along with Nutella spread. Dinner was a chicken cutlet and chicken soup.
DAY 8: Even though it was a bit rainy and white chilly, Madrid proved to be a spectacular metropolitan city during our all-day exploration of the Spanish capital. On our bus tour, we saw landmarks like the royal Palace, the historic Atocha train station, and the famous stadium for the city’s beloved soccer team, Real Madrid. We had the chance to see the classical art at the Prado museum, where many students could explain the meaning of the art to their peers. Later, we walked to the main square, Plaza de Mayor, and took advantage of our free time to shop and try the delicious foods in this busy city, full of locals during this cold part of the season (they all leave when it is hot!). We ate dinner at a downtown restaurant and had some free time at the hotel before we wound down for bed.

8 April 2018

DAY 7: We got up at 5:30 AM and got on our coach bus to Córdoba, another historic pivot point in the evolution of Andalucía and Spain. Here, we didn’t lose any time and went straight to the city’s main attraction, the Mezquita mosque and cathedral. This UNESCO world heritage site is so unique, even those of us jaded by the similarities in many European cathedrals were enthralled in the history of its construction and preservation. From the 8th century onward, the Mezquita was repurposed by every stronghold that ruled the region and instead of demolishing it and building something new each government added on to the structure, amassing a total of 5 acres by the time the Catholics took over Córdoba. The mixture of religions (Muslim, Jewish, and Catholics symbols), materials (marble, granite, and alabaster columns), and architecture (gothic, renaissance, and baroque styles) is truly captivating here. We later got to our last hotel stop of the trip, Toledo, where we took in the views!
DAY 7: Food today brought us to slightly different tapas, now that we are on our way north in Spain. This middle region of the country prides itself on Iberian ham and stores display heaps of sandwiches with bright red ham lined with fat to lure in customers. We also tried local calamari, cod fish, seared tuna, squid, and artichoke hearts in sauce. The chocolate and Nutella filled croissant was a choice of desserts along with the delicious gelato we also find on our path throughout Spain.
DAY 7: Some more photos from today...!

7 April 2018

DAY 6: The fine pebbles on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea felt so refreshing on our feet today when we visited Salobreña, a small town on the southern shore of Spain. We got to put our feet in the chilly water and and explore the quaint town for a bit. Some of us were even inspired to make a workout video with this beautiful backdrop. Later, we made our way back to the center of Granada for some free time for shopping and tapas and then it was time to prepare for our big collaboration with the local community orchestra here in Granada. The concert was a great success, with the local crowd chanting and clapping in flamenco rhythm for us, a sign of their appreciation, and closing out the concert with a patriotic American piece that we performed alongside our Spanish peers. After the concert, we hurried back to the hotel since tomorrow’s wake up time is 5:30 and we are continuing to our next stop- Córdoba!
DAY 6: Our food tour today was a bit similar to yesterday, as we stayed in the center of Granada and explored the various tapas restaurants. Some of us wanted to purchase authentic olive oil from this region known for its production, but most boutique or specialty stores close very early on Saturday and stay closed until Monday! We will have to wait until our next stop... The breakfasts in Spain are quite different than those that we are used to at home- they consume various types of eggs just like we do, but also have cheeses, roasted tomatoes, and even churros! It is common to have churros with melted chocolate or honey and they are considered a morning food. We couldn’t even get churros for dessert at lunch since they are only made in the morning for breakfast.

6 April 2018

DAY 5: Today’s food adventure took us around the center of Granada. We only had about 1.5 hours to find lunch, eat, and pay (a difficult feat in relaxed Spain!) and many of us opted for tapas restaurants around the central square of Ramblas. Some popular tapas in this region are olives (as there are endless amounts of olive trees and so much olive oil!), gambas (shrimp), peppers in oil, pimiento, calamari, fried sardines, and croquettes. We tried some cheese plate assortments (the sheep’s milk cheese Manchego is a popular choice), and of course, Pulpo :)) Later, we went for sweet treats like gelato (we even discovered the popular spicy chocolate flavor which actually leaves your mouth on fire!) and fresh strawberries with a smell so pungent, it stays in the small hotel room for hours, and a flavor that matches the delicious smell and bright red color. They are of course best paired with chocolate ! 🍓🍫
DAY 5:We started our exploration of the historic Andalusian city of Granada early this morning. Known for its academic atmosphere as the home of several of Spain’s universities, Granada is also remembered as the last city to fall from Moorish and Arab reign to the Catholic rule of Isabella and Ferdinand, making Spain newly united under their kingdom. We first wandered through the narrow, winding cobble stone streets of the old towns and saw a cistern that dated to the 10th century and still functions bringing potable water over 10 km. We took the opportunity for a great photo session and continued to a staple of Granada, the grandiose Alhambra palace, residence of the Arab Kings of the Moorish state and preserved for the following reigning kingdoms. Afterwards, we walked around the center of the city and made our way to a joint rehearsal and pizza social with the local Spanish band. Meeting Spanish peers and practicing our Spanish was such a unique and unforgettable experience!

5 April 2018

DAY 4: Our time in Sevilla flew by and today was our final day in the Spanish city of Opera. We capped off our stay by visiting the intricate and unique castle, Alcazar, originally built in the 10th century and rebuilt and modernized by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian hands with the various leadership changes in Spain’s tumultuous history between the 10th and 14th centuries. This building is overwhelming in its size and intricacy, with Arab and Sephardic motifs and signs of the Royal monarchy through the bright tiles, and the gardens are impeccably maintained and smell of fresh orange blossom, the ubiquitous tree of Sevilla. It is a staple of Spanish history and the royal family celebrates important events there to this day. Even scenes from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” were filmed here. After some free time in the city, we headed off to Granada, a 4-hour drive and are resting for our big day of excursions and learning tomorrow.
DAY 4: Our food experiences got much more adventurous today, as we had the chance to explore more of downtown old city Sevilla and learn about typical foods in the country. For lunch in town, we tried Pulpo (octopus) in sauce, Ox tail stew, and the typical tapas (small dishes), pimiento (peppers). We also tried some delicious local sea bass, as seafood is easily accessible here and super fresh! We had to top off our meal with some gelato, trying to practice Spanish while ordering. The Spanish restaurants are so quaint and can be as casual as ordering small plates from a tapas bar and eating while standing up or sitting down at a table and sharing a meal with friends.

4 April 2018

DAY 3: Our food adventure started today as well, since we got free time to explore the city and eat authentic cuisine. Many of us opted for tapas, typical Spanish small dishes that are perfect for sharing. Pictured are some fried eggplants and calamari which were delicious! The vegetables and seafood are so fresh here and restaurant owners like to display the raw foods in cases for customers. Dinner was served at our rehearsal and we dined on variations of paella and potatoes with fish or meat.
DAY 3: Today was our first real taste of Spain, literally and culturally speaking ! We started out bright and early, having slept enough to energize from our long voyage. First, we took a bus tour of downtown Sevilla, where we saw various embassies and buildings from World’s Fair expositions in Sevilla and we made our way down to the famous Cathedral here, the 3rd largest in the world, and unique in that it was formerly a mosque during the Arab era of Spain and converted into a church after the inquisitions. We saw the gigantic altars and ceilings and also Christopher Columbus’ burial place inside the church. We had free time to explore the city and grab some food before our rehearsal and first collaboration with a Spanish band. This concert was in a modern theater and we felt so welcome performing in front of the Spanish crowd and MHS parents. They even posted our Monty emblem on their publicity boards :)

3 April 2018

DAY 2: Today, we touched down in España! The weather Madrid International Airport was quite chilly, but we quickly started on our long, 6-hour journey to the balmier south of Spain. Our main cultural exposure today was the breathtaking nature and paysages of the Spanish countryside and the various types of rest stops in our long journey, as the majority of our day was in transit. We arrived in Sevilla, the capital of Spain’s southern region, Andalucia towards the evening, had a filling dinner at our hotel, and went straight to bed to recharge for the packed days ahead of us!
DAY 1: The long morning of baggage checks and prep for leaving MHS were nothing compared to the hours of practice that have gone into preparing for our long-awaited MHS band trip to Spain, but we were still thoroughly exhausted when we finally rolled up to Philadelphia International Airport a few hours ago (the Newark flight departs a bit later). We are now taxing away from the gate and getting ready for take off, so eager to get our Spanish journey started! ✈️🇪🇸🤗