From The Seawolves Den
This is the first of a series of monthly columns written by the students enrolled in the journalism program at the Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Park.
Who would have thought our Scholars would one day bike in Barcelona? On Friday, February 18, a group of 12 students accompanied by Middle School Assistant Principal Toni Marie Sorrentino and high school Spanish teacher, Martha Pinedo, took off for Spain. After a smooth flight, they viewed the country through a highly active jampacked tour.
Led by a tour guide with a flair for the Catalan culture, students visited Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, a more than a century old expiatory cathedral and landmark of Barcelona. They explored the church from many angles and later climbed to one of the building’s highest points in an elevator.
According to sophomore Lea Kramberg, what proved to be “nerve wrecking and fun” was the journey taken down from the spot via a narrow and steep stone spiral staircase. “Many legs were trembling by the end,” she said.
“The Sagrada Familia was absolutely breathtaking,” said Sorrentino, adding that many pictures were taken of the expressionist styled cathedral.
Students then took to the streets of Barcelona by bike.
The day culminated with a Trencadis mosaic tile art workshop, inspired by the creations of Antoni Gaudi, the architect commissioned to continue work on the church in 1883.
Among the activities experienced, students strolled through the boisterous
Barcelona street named Las Ramblas. There they dined, shopped, and saw the occasional street performance. To experience all that the tour offered, students had to do plenty of walking, sometimes up hills and over cobblestone streets.
“We were on the go all the time,” said junior Kaitlyn Salmon. “It felt like we were walking for miles,” added junior Samantha Murphy.
After boarding a 12-hour overnight train to Granada, students arrived at the Alhambra Palace. “We saw a lot of rich Arabic culture there,” said sophomore Lizeth Navas. “The building had a lot of golds, reds, and blues. A lot of the walls showed actual Arabic writing imprinted on them.”
Students also took flamenco lessons, stomping their heels alongside professional instructors. The lessons were followed by a flamenco show and an exclusive dinner. “It was kind of like a tango and ballroom dance,” said junior Maya Glitter-Fox. “You twisted your hands a lot, and it was like a mix of steps.”
From Granada, the tour hustled over to Cordoba where its signature mosque and cathedral were visited.
The tour guide explained that over the years, the structure underwent a series of constructions as several sections were added and rebuilt, including various Catholic chapels which can still be seen today.
Students said adios to Cordoba and headed over to Toledo to pick up bullfighting tips.
Trained bullfighters provided the Matador tricks of the trade at a local bull ranch where the group also saw how bulls were bred.
“The craziest thing ever was when we saw the bullfighter do a front flip over the baby bull,” said sophomore Casey Shamloo. “They used red and pink carpet fabric, and showed us the moves for the bull.”
The end of the day was spent cooking. Split into stations, students were instructed by professional chefs on how to make chorizo, paello, chop onions and potatoes and flip over a tortilla.
Overall, in respects to the cuisine, American food was averted as students savored dishes like tortilla Espanola. Ordering food, however, proved to be a challenge for the hungry.
“During this time it became more vital to use our Spanish speaking skills,” said Lea Kramberg. Nevertheless, students became accustomed to the frequent use of the foreign tongue, she explained.
The group had one last adventure in Madrid. Students visited four Tapas restaurants, typical hot spots in Spain for natives looking for a light snack.
As for the future potential visitors of Spain, junior Ciara Romero said, “If anybody has the opportunity, they should take it.”
According to Sorrentino, there will be more opportunities for international travel next February.