On Wednesday 27th Sept, a group of Y10 students set off on the return leg of this year’s Spanish Exchange. At the end of June students from Colegio Albariza spent a week living with their exchange partners from The Downs School, and now everyone was looking forward to spending a week in the warm climate of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucía.
Our journey to Spain took a little longer than expected, as we encountered a rather long delay with our flight. Nevertheless when we arrived at Seville Airport at about 6pm it was sunny and very warm. An hour later we were pulling up outside the gates of Colegio Albariza where all of the families were waiting to greet us. Colegio Albariza is a small school of about 300 students aged 3-16. With only one class in each year group. The majority of the students have been there for all of their school life. As such it is a close-knit community and our students were welcomed like family.
It was an exciting week. On our first full day in Spain, we travelled by train to the peninsula of Cádiz, a beautiful colonial city. We had ‘churros & chocolate ‘in a local restaurant, enjoyed spectacular views from the bell tower of the cathedral, and paddled in the sea at one of the local beaches. The following day was Friday and we spent the day visiting the sights of Jerez itself. Jerez is famous for producing sherry and we visited ‘Bodega Gonzalez-Byass’ where it is produced. We learnt about the painstaking production process, and had the chance to view some of the casks that has been signed by famous visitors such as Stephen Spielberg and Fernando Alonso.
Our students spent the weekend with their families; many visited the beach, and also fitted in shopping, parties and for some a visit to the see the famous Andalucian Dancing Horses. It was great fun to meet up with them all on Monday morning at school to find out what they had been up to.
On Monday we visited the magnificent city of Seville, starting at the Plaza España (which is more familiar to some as Naboo in the Star Wars films), and from there moving on through the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter to Seville Cathedral. It was a long walk to the top of the La Giralda (the bell tower) but the stunning view of Seville made it worthwhile. On our last full day in Spain, we were joined by all of the final year students for a trip to the mountain village of ‘Vejer’, a ‘pueblo blanco’ so named for the white buildings. Later we stopped a beach and walked up to a lighthouse from where we were able to look out to sea to the area where the Battle of Trafalgar took place.
Suddenly it was Wednesday and time to return to The Downs School. The week had flown by, and there were many tears as the families, who made us all so welcome, came to wave us off. Our students were a credit to themselves and to The Downs School. It was a very successful trip that further cemented the relationship between our two schools.