Hispanic Society E Block Study Trip to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain 27th March to 6th April 2014 This trip has taken place since 2010 and is a perfect mix of language and culture. The E Blockers stay with families in pairs or threes, have lessons at a language academy in Jerez de la Frontera every morning and enjoy excursions all over Andalucía in the afternoons. The boys also played sports against a local school and met up with pupils during the rest of our stay. This year we visited Seville to see the Royal Palaces and the vast gothic cathedral. We also travelled down the Guadalquivir by boat and saw all the glorious architectural gems left by the 1920’s Hispano-American trade fair. Cádiz, the oldest city in Europe, was a highlight, not least the bus trip round this ancient city and the delicious paella at the beach before hours of football practice and swimming in the rather chilly Atlantic (something not possible at the seaside town of Chipiona later in the week as the heavens opened spectacularly!) After visiting Jerez’s zoo to see the endangered Iberian lynx, we headed for Ronda. The oldest bullring in Spain and the town’s spectacular 18th-century bridge spanning a 120m deep gorge were firm favourites, as was our visit to a fighting bull ranch to the south of Jerez, where we learnt about how the bulls are raised and the art of bullfighting on horseback: el rejoneo. No trip to Jerez would be complete without a tour of a sherry bodega and we chose González Byass to give us an explanation of how this unique wine is made and marketed in over 100 countries. We also saw an authentic flamenco show and were privileged to witness the world-famous Andalusian horses dancing to classical music at the Royal Equestrian School. We enjoyed delicious fare in local restaurants in Jerez, not least a tapas banquet at ‘El Patio’ and excellent local specialities and delicious steak at ‘La Carboná’. This year’s E Block will be welcome on the D Block trip to Valencia over the whole of Lent Half Long Leave next year (13th – 22nd February 2015), just before their IGCSE orals at the beginning of March. The provisional dates for next year’s E Block trip to Jerez are 19th – 29th March 2015
Hispanic Society B & C Block Study Trip to Salamanca, Spain 8th – 17th April 2014 This is the fifth year B and C Blocks have been to Salamanca and the twenty-one boys who travelled with NCH and KMA thoroughly enjoyed themselves, while endeavouring to tighten up on grammatical structures and broaden their cultural awareness of matters Hispanic. The boys stayed with host families and had four hours of lessons every morning in a language academy near the main square. The afternoons were given over to exploring Spain’s equivalent of Oxford, while the early evenings were spent in one-to-one oral sessions with native speakers or sampling the local culture (the Madrid ballet corps’ touring production of the ballet Coppélia was a highlight). On four days we travelled to other places of interest: Zamora (to see the medieval castle), Segovia (for the gothic cathedral, the fortified palace which inspired Walt Disney’s iconic fairy castle, and the first-century roman aqueduct), Ávila (the most perfect medieval walled city in Europe) and the Sierra de Francia, where we explored the Peña (the highest peak in the province), seeing eagles, vultures and wild ibex, followed by the beautiful mountain town of La Alberca, lost in time. No trip would complete without a tapas crawl and we hit the students’ favourite street, Calle Van Dyck, and endeavoured to work our way through a dazzling array of local specialities. Excellent fare was to be had wherever we went on excursion, most notably our nine-course extravaganza following the sublime Bach concert given in an 11th-century church in Segovia. The roast suckling pig (the 8th course) at El Duque restaurant was truly delicious … as was everything else! This could also be said of the steak in La Alberca and Ávila and the roast lamb at Doña Paca’s famous restaurant just off the incomparable Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, after three nights of dazzling Easter Week processions, just before we headed back to UK. The provisional dates for next year’s B & C Block trip to Salamanca are 3rd – 13th April.