Adventure en el Rio Verde!

Our third week in Nerja started with a bang. The whole town was out and about watching the procession for the Fiesta Virgen del Carmen. The students really enjoyed watching the parade, the fireworks, and the live music being played throughout the night. The fun didn´t stop there! Today we went on a multi-adventure excursion in Rio Verde outside Nerja. The students had a great time rappelling amongst waterfalls, hiking among rock walls, and swimming in the river. When given the choice between a shorter less challenging route or a longer route with lots of obstacles, it was a unanimous decision to take the difficult path. This motivated group had a blast! It took almost four hours to complete the course with tons of laughs along the way. Needless to say it was a fun and challenging day! Stay tuned for professional photos and for details on our upcoming trip to Marbella and Puerto Banus! Be sure to like us on Facebook!

Trip to Granada!

Last Monday started classes and activities as usual. In our classes we made questions to ask the town councilmen and then went on a small excursion to the town hall where the students interviewed them. It was very interesting to find out more about the importance and inner workings of the Nerja government.

On Tuesday the whole group met up to have tapas at a popular restaurant, El Pulguilla. Tapas are Spanish appetizers that either come in big portions to be shared by the whole table, or small individual portions. Many times when Spaniards eat out with friends and family, they will order tapas instead of ordering individual meals.  The students had a chance to try some of the most popular tapas here in Andalucia (the southern province of Spain), including jamon serrano (similar to prociutto), manchego cheese, pulplo (octopus), various types of fried fish and freshly baked bread and breadsticks. The students really enjoyed themselves.

Our pieces in ceramics are coming along nicely and in cooking we learned how to make “pollo a la pantoja,” a chicken dish with a vegetable sauce. One evening, after activities, Ross, Max y Lauren played a game of soccer with seven other Spaniards. They had a great time, got a chance to really practice their Spanish and made some new friends! On Thursday after scuba diving class, Natalie and Lauren joined a game of beach volleyball with our new Spanish friends. They had a blast!

The highlight of last week was definitely our overnight trip to Granada! On Friday we arrived at the beautiful Hotel Andalucia Center and met our tour guide who took us on a walking tour of the Albayzin district, a neighborhood traversed by a maze of narrow pedestrian streets that is famous not only for its Moorish roots but also for its Gypsy population, which attracted foreign tourists to the neighborhood as early as the nineteenth century. The guide gave a wonderful explanation of everything.  The students were paying such close attention to the guide soaking in all the newly learned facts.   Afterwards, they enjoyed some free time to eat lunch, shop, and walk around to soak up the culture, and take a swim in the pool back at the hotel. At night we went to a Flamenco show/workshop.  We received a personal lesson of how to dance a few steps and recreate some of the dance we had just seen. It was a lot of fun as everyone, including the teachers were dancing. I think we have some future flamenco dancers in the group! After a delicious dinner we went back to the hotel to rest from our busy day.

The following day we visited the Alhambra, a sprawling walled city which in medieval times functioned as a self-supporting royal palace. The Alhambra is a wonderfully preserved example of Arab architecture in Spain, with ornate wall carvings, Arab baths, and interior plazas with fountains that would have helped to cool the buildings. Washington Irving was amazed to discover the Alhambra in the nineteenth century overtaken by wanderers and bohemians, and he himself lived there for several months, producing the classic book Stories of the Alhambra, full of tales of sultans, knights, and princesses. We had the same guide from the previous day who everyone loved listening to. Your children really enjoyed the guided tour through this spectacular palace. They couldn’t put their cameras down!  Afterwards we went to the center of Granada and had some more free time to eat lunch and go shopping (which is especially fun in the summer due to the “rebajas” or “sales”).

Sunday allowed the students free time to relax. Most took advantage of the beautiful weather and spent the day on the beach with their Spanish families.

Today is a holiday in Nerja celebrating La Fiesta del Virgen del Carmen, honoring the patron of the pescadores or fishermen. Early this morning there was a procession and at night there will be fireworks!

This week we are looking forward to a trip to the Río Verde. Be sure to like us on Facebook where pictures are uploaded regularly!

Trip to Seville & Córdoba!

Our week started off with classes as usual. The students were divided into groups of three and were each assigned a topic relating to Spanish culture and make a video presentation on it. They really enjoyed making their videos and the best video even won a prize! Congratulations to Connor, Emily and Jessie and your excellent video on how to make a tortilla española!

Our evening activities are also doing great. We are catching more waves in surf and scoring more goals in soccer! In cooking class we learned how to make “carne al toro,” a delicious and spicy meat dish. This summer we started a volunteer initiative. Two thirds of the group are now  volunteering at the Conil Alzheimers Center. They´ helping out with transportation, in the cafetería, and working with patients during their daily activities and lessons. Its an eye-opening experience for them.

The highlight of the week however, was definitely our overnight trip to Seville and Córdoba. Seville´s importance dates to colonial times, when ships leaving for America departed via the Guadalquivir River and returned carrying riches from the New World. Today we started we a tour of the Plaza de España, a square built in 1929 for the World’s Fair in Seville and featured (in digitally modified form) in Star Wars: Episode One. Our guide, then took us on a walking tour of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a district of narrow and winding pedestrian streets and quiet, hidden plazas dating back hundreds of years to Middle Ages, when Arabs, Jews, and Christians coexisted harmoniously in Spain.

Afterwards we had lunch and then checked into our hotel which is themed with intricate Moorish architecture. http://www.casasypalacios.com/mercaderes/es/

Then we visited the famous Seville cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, famous for its incorporation of a preexisting minaret from a mosque into the more traditional Gothic architecture. The attached tower, called the Giralda, has ramps instead of stairs leading up to its bell tower so that it could be traversed on horseback. One of the classes read a comic novel in which a student rents a horse to go up the ramps. It was literature come to life! Almost everyone climbed to the top for a breath-taking view of Seville.

In the evening we had dinner at the Hosteria del Laurel, an inn famous for its importance in the nineteenth-century theater version of Don Juan Tenorio (as the place in which Don Juan makes his famous bet). Afterwards we headed towards the Torre del Oro (the Tower of Gold that held the treasures Columbus brought back from the New World). From there we boarded on a boat and cruised the Guadalquivir River. It was a beautiful night to see all of the monuments lit up along the riverbank including the Cathedral and the buildings from the World´s Fair.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, the students visited the Alcázar, the oldest palace in Europe still used as an occasional royal residence. Though it was built by Christian kings, the Alcázar preserved the Arab architecture popular in Spain throughout the Middle Ages, and it is a beautiful succession of fountains, arches, and intricate wall carvings bordered by lush gardens. After visiting these two amazing monuments we will have some free time to explore the narrow cobblestone streets and soak up the culture, eat lunch, and go shopping (which is especially fun due to the great “rebajas” or sales).

Then we boarded the bus and headed to Cordoba.  Cordoba was once an Iberian city, then a Roman city, and then during the Middle Ages, the capital of the Islamic civilazation in Spain. During the 10th and 11th century it was the most populous city in the world and became the intellectual center of Europe. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture. The city was captures by King Ferdinand III during the Spanish Reconquest. Nowadays it is a moderately sized city, however, there still exist many monuments reminiscent of earlier times.

Once we checked into the hotel the students either relaxed in the pool or walked around the maze like streets and along the river with some staff members.

The first monument we visited was the Mezquita. The Great Mosque of Córdoba held a place of great importance amongst the Islamic community of al-Andalus for three centuries, and was the heart and central focus of the city. Our noctural visit to this catedral/ mosque, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was quite impressive. The entire room was dark and then an arch or important artifact would be lit up with a voice giving an explanation of its importance. As the students were taking all of this in, beautiful traditional music could be heard in the background.

The following day, Sunday, we toured the Jewish neighborhood and visited the Synagogue. Then everyone had some free time to relax, shop, or eat ice cream at it was a hot day!  Later we headed home to Conil.

Today is a holiday in Conil celebrating La Fiesta del Virgen del Carmen, honoring the patron of the pescadores or fishermen. Early this morning there was a procession and at night there will be fireworks!

We´ll keep you posted as this week are going on a trip to Cádiz. Be sure to like us on Facebook where we will be uploading pictures regularly!

Trip to Seville & Córdoba!

Our week started off with clases as usual. In class the students had an interactive lesson at the local market. They were quite impressed by the variety and quantity of food and fresh fish.  At night the students visited one of their favorite icecream shops for a special tour of how their favorite Spanish dessert is created. Of course we were all sampling the ice cream as we were learning all the interesting details of how its made!

Our evening activities are also coming right along. We are catching more waves in surf and playing more chords in guitar! In cooking class we learned how to make “filletes de pollo empanados,” a chicken dish and “roscos,”a traditional sweetbread dessert.

The highlight of the week however, was definitely our overnight trip to Seville and Córdoba. We left early Thursday morning for Seville. Seville´s importance dates to colonial times, when ships leaving for America departed via the Guadalquivir River and returned carrying riches from the New World. Today we started we a tour of the Plaza de España, a square built in 1929 for the World’s Fair in Seville and featured (in digitally modified form) in Star Wars: Episode One. Our guide, then took us on a walking tour of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a district of narrow and winding pedestrian streets and quiet, hidden plazas dating back hundreds of years to Middle Ages, when Arabs, Jews, and Christians coexisted harmoniously in Spain.

Afterwards we had lunch and then checked into our hotel, which is themed with intricate Moorish architecture. http://www.casasypalacios.com/mercaderes/es/

Then we visited the famous Seville cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, famous for its incorporation of a preexisting minaret from a mosque into the more traditional Gothic architecture. The attached tower, called the Giralda, has ramps instead of stairs leading up to its bell tower so that it could be traversed on horseback. One of the classes read a comic novel in which a student rents a horse to go up the ramps. It was literature come to life! Almost everyone climbed to the top for a breath-taking view of Seville.

In the evening we had dinner at the Hosteria del Laurel, an inn famous for its importance in the nineteenth-century theater version of Don Juan Tenorio (as the place in which Don Juan makes his famous bet). Afterwards we headed towards the Torre del Oro (the Tower of Gold that held the treasures Columbus brought back from the New World). It was a special night as we celebrated Evan´s birthday with singing, a cake and some little presents to help him remember his summer in Cádiz. From there we boarded on a boat and cruised the Guadalquivir River. On the boat they were playing flamenco music and so several students and staff just couldn´t help but dance! It was a beautiful night to have some fun and to see all of the monuments lit up along the riverbank including the Cathedral and the buildings from the World´s Fair.

After breakfast on Friday morning, the students visited the Alcázar, the oldest palace in Europe still used as an occasional royal residence. Though it was built by Christian kings, the Alcázar preserved the Arab architecture popular in Spain throughout the Middle Ages, and it is a beautiful succession of fountains, arches, and intricate wall carvings bordered by lush gardens. After visiting these two amazing monuments we will have some free time to explore the narrow cobblestone streets and soak up the culture, eat lunch (and ice cream), and go shopping (which is especially fun due to the great “rebajas” or sales).

Then we boarded the bus and headed to Cordoba.  Cordoba was once an Iberian city, then a Roman city, and then during the Middle Ages, the capital of the Islamic civilazation in Spain. During the 10th and 11th century it was the most populus city in the world and became the intelectual center of Europe. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture. The city was captures by King Ferdinand III during the Spanish Reconquest. Nowadays it is a moderately sized city. However, there still exist many monuments reminiscent of earlier times.

Once we checked into the hotel, the students either relaxed in the pool or walked around the mazelike streets and along the river with some staff members.

The first monument we visited was the Mezquita. The Great Mosque of Córdoba held a place of great importance amongst the Islamic community of al-Andalus for three centuries, and was the heart and central focus of the city. Our noctural visit to this catedral/ mosque, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was quite impressive. The entire room was dark and then an arch or important artifact would be lit up with a voice giving an explanation of its importance. As the students were taking all of this in, beautiful traditional music could be heard in the background.

The following day, Saturday, we toured the Jewish neighborhood and visited the Synagogue. Then everyone had some free time to relax, shop, eat ice cream, or even cool off in the fountain, as it was a hot day!  After lunch we headed home to Cádiz.

Sunday allowed the students free time. Most of them spent the beautiful day on the beach with their Spanish families.

We´ll keep you posted, as this week are going on a trip to Gibraltar. Be sure to like us on Facebook where we will be uploading pictures regularly!

First week in Nerja!

It was an exciting first week here in Nerja! After an enthusiastic welcome from the Spanish host families, the students settled in their new homes and that evening got to be part of a historic moment in soccer history: never has a team won the Euro Cup, the World Cup and then the Euro Cup AGAIN! We’re pretty sure this is the beginning of a dynasty. You can imagine the excitement in the streets. We all cheered as the entire country celebrated. You could not have asked for a better introduction to Spanish culture.

On Monday the students took a placement exam in the school and then went on a tour of Nerja with the staff, where they saw key Nerja landmarks and had the opportunity to purchase cell phones. Later, we had our first ceramics class. Students make all kinds of interesting keepsakes and always surprise the staff with their creativity.

On Tuesday we had our first day of classes. Later on that evening was the first cooking class.   The students learned how to make tortilla española and churros. In cooking class the students learned how to make tortilla española, one of Spain´s most traditional and popular dishes. It’s nothing like a Mexican tortillla….more like a potato omelette and so delicious. We also made porras for dessert, which you may know as churros.  We are so excited to be able to bring these delicious recipes back home with us! The cooking teacher also gave each student a Spanish apron to remember this experience.

On Wednesday we took our first trip to the caves of Nerja, which stretch almost a mile in length. One of the chambers is so large it is used for concerts since it forms a natural amphitheatre. The students were intrigued by all of the intricate formations, especially Lucy, who loves photography and used this opportunity to get some great shots.  Afterwards we went to Frigiliana, a nearby town, to do a scavenger hunt throughout its historic streets. We had a lot of fun wroking in teams trying to be the first to finish. Two teams were victorious as we had a tie between the teams of Ross, Max and Helen with Lauren and Lindsay´s team.

Thursday the students had their first scuba class. The first class was a theoretical class. where students learn all the basics about scuba procedures and safety. Everyone is excited for class this week when they will practice what they learned in the water. Afterwards the whole group reunited to play a game of volleyball on the beach. The weather was perfect!

On Saturday we went on a trip to Malaga. We started with a guided bus tour around the beautiful city and then we visited the Gibralfaro Castle. We took lots of pictures on the castle´s look-out points. We then walked around the town´s center. The guide took us through winding streets, plazas, and the cathedral. We then went to the Picasso Museum that celebrates the native of Malaga.

Today starts another fun week that culminates in a trip to Granada! We´ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

First week in Cadiz!

The excitement didn´t stop on Sunday, as Monday we started both classes and evening activities. In surfing the waves were small, but it gave everyone a good opportunity to practice their technique. Several students were able to stand up their first time! In cooking class the students learned how to make tortilla española, one of Spain´s most traditional and popular dishes. It’s nothing like a Mexican tortillla….more like a potato omelette and so delicious. After learning how to cook the food, students (and staff!) didn´t waste any time enjoying it. Maybe some parents will get to sample the recipes the students bring home…

Guitar classes also started off with bang. Some students were able to play their first set of chords, and the more advanced students started to learn how to play flamenco music!

On Wednesday we had a Fourth of July Picnic on the beach. Each Spanish family prepared a different dish. We had everything from tortilla to empanadas! We played frisbee and soccer as Alex, with her beautiful voice, and Evan, with his excellent guitar skills,  sang and played for us. Bravo! We had a great time. As the evening came to close and the sun began to set, the students all lined up to sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Early in the week students and staff met for an ice cream social and tour of the city. On Friday, the group met again for a boat ride around Cadiz. This gave us a new prespective on the homes and buildings of one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. The buildings in Cuba were structurally built to resemble this historically beautiful city.

On Saturday the students and staff went on a “ruta de tapas.” Tapas are Spanish appetizers that either come in big portions to be shared by the whole table, or small individual portions. Many times when Spaniards eat out with friends and family, they will order tapas instead of ordering individual meals.  The students had a chance to try some of the most popular tapas here in Andalucia, including jamon serrano (similar to prosciutto), manchego cheese, pulpo (octopus), various types of fried fish and freshly baked bread and breadsticks. As we left the various restuarants we stumbled upon a Cuban festival in one of the plazas. We music was so enticing we couldn´t help but to dance along with the rest of the Spaniards! The students really enjoyed themselves.

On Sunday, the students had a chance to relax and spend time with their Spanish families. Many went to the beach as the weather was perfect.

Today starts another fun week that culminates in an overnight trip to Seville and Cordoba! We´ll keep you posted.

BE SURE TO LIKE US ON FACEBOOK! DON´T FORGET TO CHECK THERE AS WELL FOR PICTURES AND VIDEOS!

First week in Conil!

The excitement didn´t stop on Sunday, as Monday we started both classes and evening activities. In cooking class the students learned how to make tortilla española and gazpacho. Tortilla española, one of Spain´s most traditional and popular dishes, is nothing like a Mexican tortillla….more like a potato omelette and so delicious. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, is equally as popular.  After learning how to cook the food, students (and staff!) didn´t waste any time enjoying it. Maybe some parents will get to sample the recipes the students bring home….

Soccer class gave the students a chance to learn some new techniques and play and socialize with some the local Spaniards. On Tuesday, the classes had an interactive lesson in the nearby market, where fresh fruit vegetables and fish are brought in from vendors each day. Later on was the first day of surfing. The waves were small, but it gave everyone a good opportunity to work on their technique. The students in painting got their sketch books and paintbrushes and started out painting a still life of a fruit basket; later on in the week we painted a scenic overlook in Conil.

On Wednesday we had a Fourth of July Ice Cream party in the Summerfuel staff house. After couple of icebreakers everyone made all kinds of delicious ice-cream sundaes.

The following evening we divided the group into small teams to compete in a scavenger hunt around Conil. Students had figure out coded treasure map clues and find hidden objects. It was a blast running around town and trying to be the first one to the next clue. The winning team reached the last clue, the marinero (a statue of a fisherman that is symbolic of Conil’s fishing village heritage), just as the sun was setting. It was beautiful scenery for a victorious moment. Congratulations to Connor, Fannie, Jessie, Carl and Natalia!

On Friday the second half of class took place in the “Piojito,” the outdoor flea market that takes place every Friday morning. The students had to find objects, describe merchandise and use their Spanish to communicate with the vendors and practice colloquial expressions. Some took this opportunity to buy some souvenirs and candy.

On Saturday the students and staff went on a “ruta de tapas.” Tapas are Spanish appetizers that either come in big portions to be shared by the whole table, or small individual portions. Many times when Spaniards eat out with friends and family, they will order tapas instead of ordering individual meals.  The students had a chance to try some of the most popular tapas here in Andalucia (the southern province of Spain), including jamon serrano (similar to prosciutto), manchego cheese, pulpo (octopus), various types of fried fish and freshly baked bread and breadsticks.

On Sunday, the students had a chance to relax and spend time with theirSpanish families. Many went to the beach as the weather was perfect.

New this year in Conil is an opportunity for the students to work on their Spanish and participate in community service at the same by volunteering at the Conil Alzheimer’s center. Quite a few students have signed up, so we’ll be sure to update on this unique opportunity soon.

Today starts another fun week that culminates in an overnight trip to Seville and Cordoba! We´ll keep you posted.

BE SURE TO LIKE US ON FACEBOOK! DON´T FORGET TO CHECK THERE AS WELL FOR PICTURES AND VIDEOS!

Spain Wins! Spain Wins! Spain Wins!

Spain won the Euro Cup last night, and not by a little….the score after ninety minutes was Spain 4-Italy 0. The students got to be part of a historic moment in soccer history: never has a team won the Euro Cup, the World Cup and then the Euro Cup AGAIN! We’re pretty sure this is the beginning of a dynasty. You can imagine the excitement in the streets. Here are some photos of students celebrating the victory with their Spanish sisters amongst the crowds!