This Christmas, our A-Level Spanish group had the fantastic opportunity to explore the breath-taking region of Andalucía on a voyage which explored its contemporary culture, its rich history and its magnificent countryside.
Three hours after finally leaving a fog-enveloped Manchester airport on Saturday 17th, we touched down in Málaga and headed, swiftly, for Córdoba where the evening promised tapas and a night visit to the famous Mezquita. Gambas and pan consumed, the Mezquita was truly awe-inspiring. Córdoba was the capital of the world in the 10th Century, and the mosque was its centrepiece. It remains one of the most famous landmarks in all of Spain, and it didn’t disappoint. “El Alma” as it is known, amazed at every turn. The intricacies of the architecture and the amalgamation of the Visigoth, Islamic, Christian and Renaissance styles created a thing of beauty, further enhanced by the clever method of revelation of the visita nocturna. It was the embodiment of the beauty of convivencia, and will live long in the
Having negotiated the fairly grotty hotel with varying levels of comfort(!), the next morning we headed to the picturesque, provincial town of Almodovar del Río on our way to Seville, where lots of jamón y queso awaited and some quite excellent coffee. After breakfast, we tried our hand at some tiro con arco with limited success. See video, to come later for what we mean by this! Our host, Alex, showed us some of the aves acuaticos that inhabited the embalse and this was then followed by a visit to the castle. Once the amateur parkour was done, this was where we learnt that the castle, originally a roman fortress on the banks of the Guadalquivir, was home to both Muslim and Christian kings over the last 1300 years. A pleasant stroll through the parque natural de Hornachuelos was the order of the day for the afternoon, and then, just after sunset we rolled into the amazing city of Seville.
Negotiating Christmas traffic in a foreign country is difficult at the best of times, but with Vivir mi vida blasting out of the cars, and one of the cars actually being more of a bus than a car, this was even more difficult. Anyway, all was well and we eventually got to our lovely apartments safe and sound. Mission Navidad (i.e. moving the cars and eating churros) came later that evening and the lucky sevillians had the chance to hear our group’s rendition of the Himno de Andalucia as they went about their Christmas shopping.
The sun shone (again!) on Monday, and a boat trip around Seville’s beautiful plaza de España (designed by Aníbal Gonzalez) was the choice for most. The city of Seville really is wonderful, and I’m sure everyone in the group will return back, when they can. There were some Spanish lessons that afternoon, and a lovely Mexican meal where Victoria, our waitress, gave us her insight into Spanish stereotypes, bullfighting, the weather and quite a lot more. Post meal, we headed to “La Carbonería”, a cute little bar in Old Seville, where we got to see an authentic flamenco show. The llantos, gritos and jaleo that we had discussed in class came alive and we even have an authentic painting for the classroom. We were also treated to Seville’s Chirstmas lightshow on our way back. Que suerte!
Tuesday, our last day, had always promised to be the most packed. After breakfast and a 9am Spanish lesson, we had a go at the walking tour of Past View, where historical characters from Seville appeared via our 3D glasses and told us about the importance of various places including the giralda, and the plaza and the cathedral in person. Then, it was to the buzzing Triana neighbourhood of Seville, where we had a cookery lesson (Gazpacho and Paella) at the Taller de Cocina. Nobody got any sort of food poisoning, and largely it was a real success! The next mission Navidad was to try and negotiate the road from Seville to the Rosaleda in Málaga, where we had 3 hours to ensure we arrived in time for kick off for the Málaga vs. Córdoba Andalucian derby in the Copa del Rey.
The azules y blancos had to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg. Despite arriving a little later than kick off we didn’t miss any of the seven goals in what was a ludicrous game, which the away team won both on the night, and on aggregate, and the cordobeses certainly lauded it over their local rivals. Finally, we headed to Marco’s characterful finca which played host to our final evening, before returnign early on Wednesday.