Monday, June 17, 2013

Welcome back, Parents,

Greetings from sunny Ciudad Real.  This weekend, students have been spending time with their host families and exploring the city and Spanish culture- but not before several adventures as a group!

Thursday afternoon, students enjoyed their first sports and recreation class, showing off their skills in soccer, volleyball and basketball.

After, the group cooled down with ice cream as we celebrated birthdays for Tori, Amy and Eric.

Early Friday morning, we boarded a bus bound for the historic and hilly Toledo. An hour and a half later, we arrived at our first stop: a vantage point at the city's apex, overlooking the Tajo river and  all the lands we were about to explore.

From there, the bus dropped us off outside of the city, and we crossed the San Martin bridge towards  the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes.  Built in 1476, this Franciscan monastery represents a mix of gothic and mudejar architecture. It is perhaps best known for its beautiful cloister.

From the monastery, we made a trip to the Sinagoga del Tránsito, also known as the Sephardic Museum.  Sephardic Jews are those descendants of the Jews expulsed from Spain in 1492 by the Reyes Católicos (Fernando and Isabel). 
From there, students had time to explore the city and eat the sandwiches that their host families had packed them.  Toledo is also known for its swords, which many students bought as souvenirs. 

 Getting around in Toledo certainly proved to be different from getting around in Indiana, with its narrow, winding streets and steep inclines.

After lunch, the group met up and visited the Museo del Ejército, or the Armed Forces Museum, where students were able to learn about different swords, rifles, and armor, as well as see vestiges of the old alcázar, or an old fortress that dates back in part to the Roman empire. Here they are in front of the alcázar, and later we have a picture from the interior courtyard.

To better reflect the three cultures that coexisted in medeival Spain, we visited the Cristo de la luz Mosque  which dates back to the tenth century, and which was later reappropriated by the Catholic church during the Reconquista.

A group of brave troopers, defeating the sun and hills!

The most awe-inspiring visit was saved for last. Here we pose outside of the breathtaking Toledo Cathedral.

We then made our final trek to the bus, and arrived back to Ciudad Real around 8pm, all of us tired from twelve hours of enrichment.  Since then, students have enjoyed time with host families.  This week we look forward to cooler temperatures with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.  Students will have optional trips to the movies and a guided tour of Ciudad Real, and will begin their classes in theatre or choir. Until next time!

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