I can’t believe the final day has come!
This morning started with a 4:15 am alarm sound in order to meet everyone and their host families at the bus stop at 5:30 am. Everyone said their goodbyes and thanks and we headed off on time bound for Madrid. After arriving in Madrid with plenty of time to spare, we cleared customs before seeking out some lunch and making some last minute duty free purchases. We then boarded the plane, ready to take on our first leg to Dubai. Much to everyone’s excitement, new movies had been released on the Emirates in flight system since the last time we flew. After touching down in Dubai, we made the quick transfer to our awaiting Adelaide bound jet. What an amazing experience the last 3 weeks have been!
Thursday 26th April: last day of lessons at Enforex! All the students received a well deserved certificate to acknowledge their progress in Spanish over the last few weeks.
The free afternoon (for last minute purchases, sightseeing and packing) was followed by our farewell dinner at a local vegetarian restaurant; where we also celebrated Bella’s 17th birthday.
Then home to bed, for a very early start to our journey home tomorrow
We all arrived at school this morning, probably a little less enthusiastic than usual due to being quite tired after the late flamenco show last night! We soon picked ourselves up and went to our two classes covering more grammar and confidence in the fluency of making conversation. After class had finished we had our free time, some of us stayed at school and relaxed and others went into the city to do some shopping. We returned to Enforex and we’re taught a flamenco routine. It was really fun to experience, and it was certainly more challenging than we thought it would be. After the lesson we did some of our own dances and tricks and had a great time. We said our goodbyes and headed back to our homestay for the evening
We started the day with a Segway tour around Granada. After arriving at enforex the students were split into two groups. The first group was then lead to Ensegway were we were greeted by Mark our tour guide. We each had a quick turn riding the Segways before starting the tour. On the tour, we were able to quickly reach the top of a hill to see some of the beautiful sites of Granada. After the tour we were given free time to enjoy Granada or rest. We later meet up at 8:30 to catch a bus which took us to a flamenco show in the caves of Sacromonte. At the flamenco show, the dancers were dressed in traditional flamenco attire and we watched in amazement as the dancers clapped and turned with a fast rhythm. After the show, we all returned home for much-needed sleep.
We had a big rush hour in the morning with our made lunch from the hotel that we stayed in as soon as we got the train station. Then we had a 3 hour train ride to Matsumoto (which i was really excited about cause i can relax). Then we went to Matsumoto hotel for a little break and then we went to the Matsumoto castle for a tour (which i was interested about even though i didn’t really show it cause i was still tired). Then we went back to the hotel to relax for a bit and after we went to dinner at a nice restaurant (yummy food)
Today we went for a serene walk through the Matsumoto Alps Park to view the distant snow capped mountains, followed by exploring the surrounding sakura and exciting outdoor adventure park. I enjoyed viewing the wildlife and listening to the woodpeckers. Not long after, we made our way to Agatagaoka Highschool for a full day of fun activities the students had prepared for us.
I learnt about Japanese highschool life, practiced tongue twisters, participated in New Year's games, tried calligraphy and performed a tea ceremony. I was sad to say goodbye to the students but I'm looking forward to seeing them again when they come to Australia. Spending the day with Japanese students allowed me to improve my language and communication skills and has enabled me to gain a wider understanding of Japanese routines and daily life.
On Saturday the 21st everyone met at Enforex at 8:30 to go to the Sierra Nevada! It was really early because the bus trip up the mountains went for an hour and the view was amazing. Our guide was one of the teachers at Enforex and he was really nice and funny. We made a stop at a museum/information center for about half an hour and they spoke to us about the wildlife and the history of the Sierra Nevada. When we were arriving at the snowy mountain, it looked amazing and everyone was taking photos from the bus. We then walked around for a while with our guide and visited some shops and had lunch. Afterwards we went up the hill on the snow. It was beautiful and very white but really hard to walk up because our feet would sink into the snow so going up was a workout. I had never been to the snow before, so for me, it was really special and exciting! Everyone bought gloves because just touching the snow hurts your hands. We got little tobogans so we could slide down in the snow and we had a little snowball fight. Everyone’s pants got drenched from the snow but it was totally worth it. We all then sat in a warm café and had some churros after going to some souvenir shops. On the ride back on the bus I fell asleep as the day was so tiring. We got back at about 5 then went home and had dinner later on. Luckily, the weather helped us as it was a sunny day.
With a week left in Granada we had an early start on Friday morning to go and visit the Alhambra. Alhambra meaning the red one in Arabic, is an ancient city overlooking Granada consisting of palaces, gardens and fortresses. We spent the morning exploring the ancient city learning about the past sultans who lived there. Beginning with the summer palace and the gardens that surrounded it, we learnt about how it was the palace for relaxation for the sultans. With all the water features in the gardens we learnt the significance the pure spring water had to the royals. From here we took a stroll through la Medina, the area where all the servents and employees lived. Although there wasn’t much to see because there were only ruins left it was interesting to see the layout of the houses. This lead us to la Alcazaba where we were able to climb to the highest bell tower and see the views of all of Granda. The bell was very symbolic as it is till this day where all the single women of Granda ring the bell on the 1st of January so they may find a husband in that year. After many photos we descended to the palace of Nazaríes and for the first time that day our group was speechless. We were all astonished by the intricate patterns which decorated the walls of the palace. Coming to Granda without visiting the Alhambra would’ve been like not coming to Granda at all. Luckily the weather was also on our side and we concluded our day with classes at enforex in the afternoon. It is fair to say that everyone was extremely happy with our visit.
After 11 days in Salamanca we wake to our first day in Granada. Without a cloud in the sky and the forecast of our warmest day yet, we are taken to Enforex to begin our lessons with different teachers and facilities. After the day’s lessons we split up for free time to explore the city and eat our packed lunches. At 4:00 the group meet up for our tour of the Albaycin. The UNESCO world heritage site is one of the oldest centres of Muslim culture in Granada. The area was truly beautiful with its narrow streets and white buildings. We stopped to view the magnificent site of the Alhambra and snow capped mountains and on the way down the hill went through the gardens of the Carmen de la Victoria. While it was a tiring walk it was worth the view. We all then went home to eat and sleep ready for our next day in this beautiful city.
Our final full day in Salamanca had to be one of my favourites. We had our last lessons in the morning then said a big thank you and goodbye to the wonderful teachers and staff at Enforex for all their amazing work in our daily classes and afternoon adventures. Everyone then split off for their usual lunch, shopping and/or siesta at six we met back up in the Plaza Mayor for one of the most heavily anticipated activities (at least in my books) which was our salsa dance class. We arrived at what looked like a dingy old bar and then went downstairs into a big open room with wooden floors and a big mirrored wall. Our salsa teacher then hopped into the stage and began to explain what we would be doing, which led into us learning our first steps of the dance. As we learnt more and more, everyone was getting into it and having a good laugh. Shane was REALLY good. We all got a turn to dance on our own and with each other and everyone was having a really good time. After it ended, we all salsa-ed outside and down the street to a restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious paella cooked right in front of us. All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend our final night in salamanca together as a group, especially to tire us out for the eight hour bus ride we had ahead.
Started with Breakfast at 8:30, western style with bacon, eggs, salad, sausage and a strawberry 🍓. After breakfast lots of trains and walking to a shrine where we were let loose upon the public. Massive shrine buildings (Sensoji temple) and lots of souvenir shops. About 2 hours later we made the bad decision of splitting up and going to two different places. Half of us went back to akihabara and the other half went to harajuku. Lots of great shops at both (so much walking though). The akihabara group made it safely to Odaiba but the other group got lost. Very lost. The group that made it spent time at even more shops as well as some great tourist attractions (GIANT GUNDAM!Got back about 9 and collapsed. A great day but exhausting.