This blog is for the Spain split session starting July 16, 2019, which includes both the 14-day and the 21-day student groups.
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Touchdown in España! Our GLA squad made the trip into Toledo today, our home for the weeks ahead. After a big Spanish dinner the group spent time getting to know each other on our scenic terrace as the full moon rose. A great ending to a full day of travel and first impressions of Toledo!
Wednesday July 17, 2019
The beginning of our experience in Toledo over the past few days has been nothing but excitement! After a productive orientation and a thoughtful debate, we were then divided into groups to prepare for the upcoming service we would participate in today. We spent some time at the park acting out humorous skits and getting to know each other better through leadership activities. We then enjoyed a delicious Spanish dinner at a nearby restaurant and spent the remainder of the night hanging out under a beautiful sunset on the terrace.
Today we arose bright and early and went off to service at the three different schools. We all participated in a variety of activities with the kids including arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, puppet shows, singing songs, and more while attempting to efficiently communicate with all of the kids in Spanish. After service, we headed back to the school for Spanish lessons! The second day we saw Toledo’s “famous” swords and did group activities. Each day ends with a colorful sunsets on the terrace and a recap of the day.
Friday July 19, 2019
This morning we started off the day right with another breakfast at our neighboring coffee house. Next we traveled to our designated schools where we reunited with “los chicos”. Today some groups took part in the water activities and assisted the teachers in group rotations full of splish-splashing. It is awesome to see our whole group make friendships with some of the younger school children.
After lunch and a short break at the Home Base, we began our scavenger hunt. We explored the mix of Christian, Jewish and Muslim districts within Toledo’s center and completed different tasks that we were given to us by our one of our Spanish teachers, Roberto. The final stop of the scavenger hunt was the zip line over the river that surrounds the walls of Toledo. It was an awesome way to cool off with the wind in our faces as we flew down the zip line. Everyone is now excited for our next stop in Madrid!
– by Sophia & Grant
Sunday July 21, 2019
We set out for Madrid in the morning and arrived at around noon. Once we checked into the hostel, we explored Madrid and ended the day with a delicious Tapas Tour. The following day, we had a paella cooking class and we rode bikes around the Buen Retiro Park. Later in the day, we all went shopping and on the way back, it actually began to rain. The rain was very unexpected as it was hot and sunny the entire day. The GLA staff surprised us with a pizza dinner.
Wednesday July 24, 2019
It’s been a couple days since our last update. We all had a blast in Madrid! Before returning to Toledo, we had a full day kayaking down the Río Guadiela. We had a picnic lunch beside the river, and enjoyed some free time to swim with our friends. We enjoyed the bus ride back to Toledo, grateful for the time to relax, sleep, and spend time together while observing the beautiful sunflower fields of the countryside outside our windows.
Yesterday, we started the morning with our regular schedule of going to service and Spanish classes. The kids were so excited to see us after we had been away for the long weekend in Madrid! In the evening, one of our Spanish teachers, Ricardo gave us a tour of the cathedral and taught us how to flamenco dance. It was a great cultural experience and gave us all some good laughs!
Friday July 26, 2019
Today was a great day in Toledo! We started out at our respective schools volunteering. It was the two-weekers last days there. In the afternoon, we went to the Moorish baths to relax. We were served tea and cookies!
After the baths we got gelato, coffee, and had time to relax. We met back up before dinner for mentor groups and talked about our experiences volunteering at the schools and how we have grown from this experience. Dinner was great and was followed by catching the sunset on the rooftop terrace. We later tried marzipan for the first time and convinced GLA staff to let us stay up 30 minutes later than normal!
Sunday July 28, 2019
Today we had our big outing to the town of Consuegra. We drove about an hour and started off by touring a castle. We saw libraries, jail cells, and the fortress walls. Afterwards we walked to the nearby molinos (aka windmills) that were depicted in the story “Don Quijote.” We learned their history and how they worked and had some good photo ops. Afterwards we had a picnic and traveled back to Toledo.
We then shopped for souvenirs, food, and clothes. Everyone enjoyed spending some time with each other before the trip comes to an end for the two week campers. At dinner we ate at Palacios for the last time and threw a surprise party for our mentor Steph. It was an amazing way to spend one of our last nights as a full group.
Sunday July 28, 2019
Today is the last day for our 2-week group, which is sad but we are enjoying every second we have left with both groups. We started off with late breakfast (9:00!!) and then headed to spanish class. Each class gave their final presentations and the 2 week group said goodbye to our amazing Spanish teachers.
We did some last minute shopping and after lunch, we did activities in the park and got our packing done. Before we headed to dinner, we did an “appreciation circle” to remind ourselves of the incredible friendships and memories we created on the trip. Our 5-course dinner at a new restaurant was extremely delicious and we were all stuffed as we bonded for the last time as a full group on the terrace.
-Jackie and Christina
Wednesday July 31, 2019
We continued with our usual routine today, enjoying our final days in Toledo before we head to Barcelona. While we were at service at Mayol, we did a bunch of different scavenger-hunt like activities with the kids. We all danced to “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana and embarrassed ourselves to say goodbye because the session switches tomorrow, so new kids and teachers will be arriving.
After service, we went to our special Spanish class where we went around town with our teachers shopping and exploring the city like real Toledanos. We had lunch, rest time, and then we started the Paseo del Valle which is a famous walk around the city. It was a very long walk in the heat but the views looking up at the city were worth it. After a well-deserved dinner, we went to the terrace to surprise Steph and Nacho, one of our favorite employees in the hostel, with a birthday party filled with soda and snacks.
-Jackie and Ariel
Last day in Toledo! We spent the morning volunteering and saying our goodbyes to the kids. It was amazing how bonded we felt, even though we had only known each other for a short while. After that was our t last day of Spanish! We concluded with final presentations, and farewell wishes from our teachers. During the afternoon, we took ourselves on a “nostalgia tour” in which we traveled throughout the different places in Toledo we had spent the most time and recounted our best memories there. To conclude an epic three weeks in the beautiful city, we had one last meal at Palacios and a quick gelato run:)