Jet-lagged and somewhat sleep-deprived, our group of Montgomery Academy students and chaperones arrived in Madrid on November 16th with an excited attitude. We met our amazing tour guide, Susana, in the airport and began our journey. Throughout the trip, we saw new cities, tasted unique food, learned about a different culture, and tested our Spanish-speaking skills. It was an unforgettable trip filled with many enriching experiences.
We began our trip in Madrid with a guided sightseeing tour of classic Spanish boulevards, grand plazas, and the diverse architecture of modern-day Spain. We visited the Plaza de España with its statue of Don Quixote, the Alcalá Gate, and the famous Las Ventas bullring. Soccer fans were thrilled to make a stop at Santiago Bernabeu, the stadium of Real Madrid. Next, we visited one of the world's premier art museum, the Prado. Here, experts guided us through the artwork of Veláquez and Goya, some of which many of us have studied in our art classes at the Academy. From there, part of the group continued their art exploration at the Reina Sofia museum to see Picasso's "Guernica", while other visited the Royal Palace. We reunited in the Parque del Buen Retiro, where we enjoyed people-watching while having a coffee. Finally, we capped off our time in Madrid by watching the performers in the Puerta del Sol. Some of us even decided to join in the dancing!
Toledo was our first stop on the way to Granada. We enjoyed a culinary class in a restaurant with panoramic views of the beautiful city. We created three traditional Spanish dishes and then enjoyed eating them. That afternoon, we climbed up the steep cobblestone streets to tour the historic Gothic Cathedral, the Medieval Synagogue, and the Church of Santo Tomé, which included El Greco's astonishing masterpiece.
On the way to Granada, we drove through Andalucia's sunflower fields and olive groves. In Granada, we visited the legendary Moorish Alhambra in the cold rain. We didn't let the rain slow us down. We spent the afternoon wandering through the streets exploring the city's multicultural roots, admiring the architecture in the former Muslim silk bazaar, the Alcaicería. We spent the evening in the fascinating caves of the Sacromonte neighborhood by learning the steps to Spain's most famous dance, the flamenco. We finished with a special dinner, then a life-changing show by some of Spain's most talented flamenco dancers.
Our next stop was the Andalucían capital, Seville. Here, we were guided by a through the immense Gothic Cathedral, burial place of Christopher Columbus, and the grand Giralda Tower. We spent the rest of the day exploring Seville. The next morning, we visited the historic Triana neighborhood, learning about their famed ceramic tiles. Here, we were given the opportunity to decorate our own piece in a ceramic tile workshop. Later in the day, we journeyed to the Moorish city of Córdoba, visiting the Great Mosque of Córdoba, and roaming the narrow street lanes line with beautiful whitewashed buildings.
Finally, we journeyed via high-speed train to Barcelona, a city known for its artistic treasures and outstanding Gothic and Modernist architecture. In Barcelona, we walked through the peaceful squares and towering old buildings of the city's Gothic Quarter. For Thanksgiving Dinner, we enjoyed a traditional Spanish paella- a spicy tango of rice, chicken, and vegetables considered by many to be Spain's national dish. On our final day, we began with a panoramic sightseeing tour with local experts pointing out the major highlights of Barcelona, including the uniquely designed Gaudí houses. We stopped for a visit in Gaudí's Parc Guell and again encountered the rain. Later that day, we visited the still-unfinished, yet impressive, Sagrada Familia Basilica. We spent the rest of our final day wandering the magnificent streets of Barcelona before our departure the next morning.
Hannah Soloff & James Torbert
Class of 2019