Thursday, 20 March 2014


Our last stop on the tour has been Barcelona.  After 3 nights of 'roughing it' in youth hostels, everyone was excited about getting to stay in vacation apartments for the last two nights of the trip.  We've done a lot of wandering through this world-class city.  As usual, there are people everywhere at all times of day and night.  We visited Gaudi's La Pedrera yesterday, and today we were given an incredible tour of La Sagrada Familia, the Basilica church that is 100 + years in the making and scheduled to be complete in 2026.
Aside from architecture and shopping, we've also enjoyed eating!   The vegetarian falafel chain known as Maoz now has 20 dedicated Canadian fans-- students may be returning to Barcelona simply to eat there again.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Malaga = Beach Day!!!

Highlights included:  having a great beach to enjoy across the street from the hostel, having a corner store with ice cream across the street from the beach, soccer on the beach, swimming in the Mediterranean and a paella dinner at the hostel.

The Alhambra

Our visit to the Alhambra in Granada was amazing.  The weather was beautiful-- 20 degrees in the mid -afternoon.  We rented the audio guides during our visit... the history behind the pictures adds another level of awe to the visit.

Monday, 17 March 2014


Adios Madrid, hola Granada!

It only took a 5 hr bus ride to get to Granada, but it feels like we crossed a border into another country.  Andalucia is different from the Castilian Spain that we have come to know.   We are now in the land of the Moors, of gypsies, of Flamenco, and of 700 years of Arabic rule prior to the Catholic Kings' re-conquering of Granada in 1492.

The walk to our hostel was up a narrow street past shops selling glasswares and leather, with restaurants and tea houses blended in to the mix.  We hiked up to the lookout of San Cristobal to stare across at the Alhambra--the Palace City that looms above Granada.  While it is ornate and detailed on the inside, from an outsider's perspective it is an impenetrable fortress.

We'll find out more about that tomorrow on our visit to the Alhambra.  In the meantime, here are some photos from our afternoon and evening in Granada.

The football match

I've been a big Real Madrid fan for a number of years, so imagine my disappointment when I saw that they were playing an away game during our weekend in Madrid :(   But, as Ethan's dad reminded me in an email, there are in fact TWO professional football clubs in this city, and it just so happened that Atletico de Madrid was playing a home game on Saturday night.  

Atletico fans are in 7th heaven right now--their team currently sits in 2nd place in La Liga, ahead of FC Barcelona, and they have already advanced to the quarter-finals in the Champions League.   We were told that Atletico's 'aficion' are some of the most enthusiastic fans in Spain, and it showed at the game.  Though the stadium was not sold out, the singing, cheering, and outcries of disbelief at the referee were impressively passionate.  We scored in the 2nd half-- a brilliant 1-0 victory that delighted everyone in the stands.  The kids loved it...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Walking around Madrid

Today was a travel day.  After the 3 hr train ride, we checked into our hotel and everybody had a rest. Hit the town in the late afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful walk through the Puerta Del Sol area.  Saw the outside of the Palacio Real, and then visited Madrid's Plaza Mayor.  The buildings are brilliant, but the charm is in the wide pedestrian-only streets and the endless spectacle of street performers, vendors and masses of people.

Everyone was thrilled to eat mexican food tonight -- La Morena set us up with deliciosos nachos and tacos.  A great afternoon and evening in Madrid.   Honorable mention goes to the street performer who goes by the name 'cabron' ... the photos tell the tale.

Last day in Salamanca

Yesterday was our last day in Salamanca.

The students had their final classes, and then in the early afternoon we met up for an excursion to Parque de los Jesuitas, a beautiful park.  Played some soccer, some Uno, some "Saboteur" and then walked to el Centro Comercial.  Everyone did some last minute shopping, then hopped on a bus back to the town Center.  

The students have really enjoyed their time here.  Thanks to the homestay experience, and the fact that we were here for a week, they have a good sense of what it is like to live in a Spanish town.   With the bridge that was built by the Romans in 100, the University that was founded in 1218, and the Plaza Mayor, which is reputed to be the finest plaza in all of Spain, Salamanca truly is a special place.