Hola From Spain!

During our first few days in Madrid, it was wonderful to see our enthusiastic student group start to make connections with new faces from different places [Quebec, BC, Alberta, Florida]. It mirrored the hospitality we enjoyed upon arrival in Madrid as we enjoyed a very warm welcome at the hotel. It didn’t take long for our students to immerse into the culture, whether it was walking in the footsteps of Hemingway to experience the places that inspired his writing and love of Spain, or enjoying a ‘churro’, the local specialty, at the San Gines Chocolateria. For our more active students, a jog or walk in the gem that is Retiro Park provided a great activity option.

Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”. It’s wonderful to see our students broadening their perspective, and contemplating in new ways as they tour through world class museums like the Prado, and Renia Sofia in Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Our students studying ‘classical civilizations’ could stand among the sculptures representing different periods in history while standing in one room, adding a rich layer to their learning.

The entire group was greeted by the mammoth ‘Maman’, which happened to be in Bilbao during our time. Louise Bourgeois’ beautiful bronze, marble and stainless steel spider sculpture, an ode to her mother, captivated us right from the start.

As in most European countries, the people love to be outside, and our students have had amazing opportunities to observe or emulate ‘mediterranean’ life during their brief time in Spain. The simple daily pleasures are many; sipping cappuccino or enjoying a cold gelato on the piazza; an evening stroll along the waterway, or sampling tapas / pintxo from the multitude of open air restaurants lined along cobblestone streets. Our photography class enjoyed city perspectives from a riverboat in Bilbao and from atop the funicular with panoramic views of this mountainous area.

The highlight for many in the group was the unforgettable, ‘Encierra’ or ‘Running Of The Bulls’ in Pamplona. Our math students may have been thinking about the relative speed of the magnificent bulls to the crowd of runners, joined by everyone else in the stadium cheering both man and bull proudly as they made their way through the streets and into the arena. The electric atmosphere captured not only the excitement of the run, but also the warmth of family and community. We were so fortunate to be welcomed, with students showing their spirit dressing in red and white attire as is the local tradition – an amazing, unforgettable experience.

Beautiful San Sebastian enticed everyone with it’s picturesque waterfront and amazing gastronomy. Our students excitedly expanded their palate trying local tapas delicacies like Iberian ham and octopus. Enthusiasm remained especially high in San Sebastian, with it’s gorgeous beach always steps away, drawing our students to swim in its waters or walk the promenade to catch the sunset.

La Ramblas in Barcelona. site of the ’92 Olympics, awaits!