After delays in the Cleveland airport due to weather and sprinting through the Philadelphia airport to catch the connecting flight, the group arrived in Spain's capital, Madrid, at 11:30 in the morning. Here the group met the tour guide, Violeta, before heading off for the hotel. After a quick check-in at the hotel, it was off to the Prado art museum. Here the group saw many world-famous artworks. After that, the group was to take a bus tour of Madrid, but it was put off until Monday since most people were just too tired for it. After deciding to delay the tour a day, the group, under the guidance of Violeta, headed through the Madrid Subway system to return to the hotel.
3/31/03 - Monday
The day started off with a trip to Toledo, a city that was once the capital of Spain. It is surrounded on three sides by the Tajo River, and on the fourth by a wall. After stopping on hills just outside the city for photo opportunities, the group headed into the city. Toledo is very well known for its gold work and swords. For this reason, the group toured a factory in which swords were created and gold jewelry and assorted trinkets were skillfully crafted. After finishing that tour, the group was taken inside the impressive cathedral in the city. The cathedral has amazing structures and woodwork, and has a stone on display which Mary had supposedly appeared upon. That ended the tour of Toledo.
Returning to Madrid, the next stop was at the Palacio Real, the Royal Palace. This grand palace was the former home of the kings of Spain. It contains approximately 2800 rooms, 20 of which the group was taken through. After completing that tour, the group took the bus tour of the city that had been postponed from the day before. The tour was brief, with the highlight being the visit by a statue dedicated to Spain's most famous fictional characters: Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.
When that tour was finished, the group was taken to the Plaza Mayor, the Major Plaza. It is the location for many events including rallies, concerts, and general gatherings. Here the group was let free to walk around the surrounding areas to shop, eat, site-see, or do whatever they pleased. After the group re-gathered, they returned to the hotel where the meal for the night was goat.
4/1/03 - Tuesday
The group traveled from Madrid to Sevilla. While this trip normally takes about 6 hours, it was brought down to just over 2 hours by way of the AVE, a high speed train named Alta Velocidad de Espaņa. After racing through the beautiful countryside of Spain, the AVE arrived in Sevilla where the group again quickly signed into the hotel before setting out. The group walked to a part of the city known as La Campana, the Bell. Here they were set free to walk up and down the many narrow streets which were lined with shops and restaurants.
That evening, some students capitalized on the opportunity to go see a flamenco show. The students who went returned with favorable opinions of this event.
After dinner, Violeta led many of the students all through the narrow streets to, first off, get to an ice cream shop, and second, to show the students how easy it is to get lost in a city such as Sevilla. Three students were up to the challenge of leading the group back, and succeeded with only a little bit of help from Violeta.
4/2/03 - Wednesday
The day started off with a bus tour of the city of Sevilla. The group was shown many of the famous sites in the city. When the bus tour was completed, the bus stopped in the Plaza Espaņa. The group was given time to take pictures and take-in the spectacular architecture. From here, the group traveled through the Jewish quarters of the city on the way to the cathedral of Sevilla. The students then toured the cathedral of Sevilla, which is the largest cathedral in Spain, seeing the awe-inspiring architecture, a casket containing the supposed remains of Christopher Columbus, and various works of art held within the cathedral. After the tour concluded, the group was given time to walk up the 34 ramps and 17 steps to the top of La Giralda, a Moorish tower connected to the cathedral. La Giralda is the tallest tower in the city and provides a gorgeous overview of the entire city. After returning from the climb, the students were once more allowed to roam through the city to find lunch, shop, and do whatever they wanted until dinner time at the hotel.
4/3/03 - Thursday
The group took a 4-hour bus ride to Torremolinos, also known as the Costa del Sol, the Sun Coast. The trip included two main stops. The first stop was in the city of Ronda. This city was, as Mr. Huston described it, a "typical Spanish town." Here the group took a tour of the oldest bull fighting ring in Spain for the new style of bull fighting. The new style of bull fighting is on foot and was done by the lower class citizens. The old style was done on horseback and by members of the upper class. This tour provided an incite in the history and art behind bull fights. After the tour concluded, the group was given time to get lunch in the city before heading off for Mijas.
Mijas was the second of the two stops on the trip to Torremolinos. The students were allowed to do what they desired. Some got food, others took a donkey ride through the town, while still others shopped for souvenirs and gifts. After the 2 hours here were complete, the group finished the trip to Torremolinos to complete the day.
4/4/03 - Friday
The day was free for the students to do what they desired. Some students went to the beach where a few of the more daring ones took a dip in the freezing Mediterranean, while others went into the city for shopping, dining, and to just hang out. After returning to the hotel and having dinner, much of the group got together for what was expected to be karaoke. It turned only into live entertainment, but the group made the best of it. Natalie Reder started off the evening singing a duet of Let It Be with the DJ. After that, the DJ played some tunes that got the group onto the dance floor. In no time at all, the students had the teachers up and dancing, along with some of the older members in the hotel who had come down for the entertainment.
As that wound down, the group ran into some trouble with some Spanish soccer teams who were also staying at the hotel and enjoyed the presence of American females. Well, Seņora Farquar wasn't pleased with this. She kicked some major butt and managed to bring peace between the groups.
4/5/03 - Saturday
The students' last full day in Spain started with a trip to the city of Granada to take a tour of La Alhambra. The tour started off with Natalie Reder singing in an auditorium of Charles V to show off the acoustics of the building. This information, however, we were then told to forget since it was not a part of La Alhambra. The tour went through many different rooms of La Alhambra and showed off the Moorish architecture. The group was shown the last remaining pieces of stained glass in the building and the world famous Patio of the Lions. After completing the tour of the building, the students were taken to the gardens of La Alhambra, which had recently started to bloom. This provided the students great photo opportunities within the gardens and of both the city of Granada and the outside of La Alhambra. After getting lunch at a local hotel, the group was taken into center of Granada and allowed to walk around the town. Some stopped in the stores while others perused the flea market. The group then headed back to the hotel to put on some nicer clothes before heading into the city for the final dinner of the trip. Near the end of the meal, a few students sneaked out, bought a cake, and brought it back to the restaurant to celebrate Krista Ruggerio's birthday. The students were then allowed a bit more time to head around the city on their own, catching taxis back to the hotel.
4/6/03 - Sunday
The wake up call came at 3:30 AM, so a majority of the students decided to just stay up all night and hang out. After grabbing some quick breakfast, the group headed to the Malaga airport to catch their flight to Madrid. After arriving in Madrid, the students had to wait until 10:00 AM for the US Airways counter to open. A majority of the students sat down, only to quickly fall asleep. After 10:00 rolled around, the group checked in and was soon on their way back to the United States. After about 9 hours in the air, the plane arrived at Philadelphia. As the time of the flight back to Cleveland neared, the group suffered a quick bit of panic as news of a US Airways flight from Philly to Cleveland being cancelled was announced. This was, however, the flight right before the one the students were to take back to Cleveland. The flight to Cleveland landed at 10:10 PM, bringing an end to what all agree was an informative, fun, and very memorable trip.