A Winter Getaway to Spain

Group+photo+in+front+of+the+Palacio+Real.

Olivia Roller

Group photo in front of the Palacio Real.

The average high school trip does not include flamenco lessons. But 25 students and four chaperons experienced this unique opportunity and more when they traveled to Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, during winter break. The trip included tours of both cities, visits to popular travel sites, and afternoon excursion time to explore.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the group departed from Atlanta on a nine hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Five hours later, they boarded a plane to Barcelona, Spain.

Since the first two days of the trip were travel days, Monday was the first full day in Barcelona. The group’s sightseeing included visiting La Sagrada Familia, a massive cathedral that has been under construction for nearly one hundred years. Junior Hannah Brown was amazed by this famous Gaudi building. “La Sagrada Familia was one of the most intricately designed things I’ve ever seen. It’s no wonder it’s taken so long to build.”

Parque Guell, a park designed by Gaudi, was another stop on the tour. Next the group visited a local pottery shop and painted mosaic lizards and replicas of La Sagrada Familia.

After a second busy day of sightseeing around Barcelona, the group trip toured La Pedrera, an apartment building designed by Gaudi in the early 20th century. After a walk on the rooftop and through some of the floors, the students either toured interesting points in Barcelona with Spanish teacher Jesus Martinez, the Picasso Museum with English teacher Ayoka Shakir, or the Barcelona Zoo with Spanish teacher Olivia Roller.

Early Wednesday morning, the students boarded a charter bus for Madrid. Junior Frances Wilson was in awe of the natural beauty. “The countryside was beautiful, even though all the trees had been cut down. I was surprised to see so many wind turbines that signified Spain is taking a step in the right direction.”

After arriving in Madrid before nightfall and settling in to their new four-star hotel, the students enjoyed a brief tour of Puerta del Sol (the city’s main plaza) and later filled their stomachs with churros.

Day five began with a trip to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). From there, the group probed the city backstreets on foot, learning some history along the way. To finish off the day the group completed an introductory course to the flamenco dance, at Corral de la Moreria, ranked in the New York Times 1000 Places to See Before You Die. After the lessons they watched a professional flamenco performance.

Seasoned dancer Emily Miller had reason to take interest in learning the flamenco.  “As a dancer, the flamenco was the best for me because I love getting to see new people perform and learn new dances.”

Although the last day in Madrid meant the completion of the trip, Junior Hannah Brown enjoyed it the most because they visited Museo del Prado. “We got to see so many pieces of art that we had been studying in class for so long.”

Flamenco lessons was one activity that all students participated in. They learned the correct arm and leg movements and then watched a show afterwards.

Before the Prado, the students ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe where they had a chance to bond with Spanish students over “Living on a Prayer,” a 1980s hit song by Bon Jovi. From the Prado, the students made their way back to Puerta del Sol, where they were given free time for last minute shopping and dinner. Then, they boarded the Metro back to the Hotel Chamartin.

Even with a 2:00 a.m wake up call, Martinez was able to organize group bowling on the last night.

At three in the morning, the students boarded the bus to the airport. By six, they were in flight to Frankfurt. After a four hour layover, they were on the flight back to Atlanta.

Roller was very excited about traveling with her students. “The trip to Spain over the February break was a wonderful experience. I love Spain, and it’s so exciting to see it through fresh eyes – -and to give students the chance to have life-changing and unforgettable experiences while actually using and experiencing the Spanish language in a real world context.”