Biodiversity meets music – second meeting of the project partners in Seville (Andalusia, Spain)
We arrived early at the airport, and after an hour’s wait, we boarded the plane. We landed in Spain at around 9 pm and were kindly picked up by the Spanish coordinator Jana and a friend of Ms Wilneder. So our walk to the hotel was shortened from one hour to 20 minutes. The hotel was really very impressive. Unfortunately, as it was night, it was difficult to see the hotel garden and the view of the city. After stowing our luggage in our rooms, we went in search of a tapas bar late at night. Fortunately, a tapas bar near our hotel was still open and there we, the students, enjoyed typical Spanish tapas for the first time. This culinary delight marked the end of our “first” day in Spain.
Day 1 – 04/04/22
When we got up in the morning, our group found ourselves at the huge breakfast buffet. As not all schools stayed in the same hotel, we only met the Greeks and Italians, including some we (Oliver and Lina) recognised. Amazed by the many options, we tried a bit of everything. Among them, we especially enjoyed the Spanish cocoa “Cola Cao”, which we let go with us every morning.
After the delicious breakfast, we made our way to the school. We had our difficulties finding the right bus stop because a construction site took us by surprise. Despite this, nice strangers showed us the way and in the end we still found our way to school on time (with a slightly stressed Mrs Birkelbach).
When we arrived at the school, we were warmly welcomed by Jana. She showed us the way to the auditorium and there we met the headmaster and other teachers of the school. After the introductions, it was straight down to business. The Spanish students presented their prepared presentations about Doñana Park and Parque Maria Luisa. Afterwards, we students were divided into different groups and had to master a kind of Escape Room game. The last thing on the programme was lunch together. We went to a nice restaurant near the school and over lunch we got to know each other better. As in Greece, the first thing we did was to make friends with the friendly Latvians.
After lunch together, it was time for us to explore Seville.
Seville made quite an impression on us, because the buildings in Seville are all magnificent and special. At the same time, we became aware of the many birds and nature. Because in Seville there are not only many magnificent buildings, but also a lot of nature. We passed the huge Maria Luisa Park and also saw the famous Alcazaar, but we couldn’t enter the Alcazaar because a gigantic queue had already formed. The many orange trees, also naranjo in Spanish, were in blossom at the time and filled the streets with a lovely fragrance. By mistake, we even burst into the middle of a wedding photo shoot.
Lastly, we visited the famous Cetas. At this breathtaking vantage point, you could see the whole of Seville, and at night the view was even more beautiful. Not only were the Cetas lit up and a light show played out, but you could also see the many sights as they were illuminated. Our day ended with a wonderful dinner in another tapas bar.
Report: L. Tran, Q1
Day 2 – 05/04/22
Due to the less-than-ideal weather forecast, we pushed the programme back a bit that day, which meant we were lucky enough to sleep in. After a great breakfast, we set off for the Spanish school, from where we wanted to take a coach to a national park. Just as we were leaving, we noticed that the Greek students were still missing. They arrived about half an hour later, but then we were able to set off in full. When we arrived in the village next to the Doñiana National Park, we immediately noticed the large white church. The whole village was relatively small, all the houses in the village were white, so it still looked very nice. Before we had free time to look around the village, we ate snack packs that the Spaniards had brought for all of us. Strengthened, we could now walk around the village a bit. We walked around partly with the Norwegians and partly with the Latvians. Next to the village was a large lake where we could see flamingos. Unfortunately, as predicted, the weather was not very good and in the town only a few souvenir shops were open, so we were glad when the tour to the national park started. We drove through the park in two buses. Our guide was very interested and explained to us in detail and joyfully about the many birds, deer, lynx and the biodiversity in the national park.
We also saw many birds during the course of the tour. After about half the time, we took a short break and had something to eat and drink in a shelter in the park. When the tour continued, we drove back the way we came, and we could also get out to have a closer look at the many herds of deer. At the end of the very long tour, we also saw a lynx, which delighted us all, especially our guide was very euphoric. After the tour, we took another look inside the church on the village square, which was almost completely gilded and really very impressive. The weather was also nice at the end of the day and we were able to see the village in the sunset. Afterwards, we all went back to Seville near our hotels. There we ate in a small fish restaurant. It was very cosy and we were all very eager to try things like mussels and squid from Spain. The people in the restaurant were also really hospitable and happy to have people from outside eating with them.
Report: Z. Brodehl, Q1
Day 3 – 06/04/22
On the third day, we had another early start after a great breakfast. Despite a slight delay, we were still the first group on the Plaza de Españia. At first, we were all a bit depressed, as the weather, contrary to what the weather forecast predicted, was unfortunately not that good. Nevertheless, the square was very beautiful and fortunately still empty in the morning. When the other groups arrived at the square and the whole group was together, we started with a guided tour through the Parque de Maria Louisa. Unfortunately, it started to rain during the tour, so we had to take short breaks again and again. Despite this, we saw a great variety of plants and also a few animals in the park, including plants we had never seen before. A little later, the weather got much better, which made us all very happy. With the good weather, the park was twice as beautiful, besides the great plants, there were fountains all over the park. The park is divided into an English, Spanish and French garden, so you could see all architectural styles. At the end of the Spanish guide’s tour, we were able to explore the park ourselves. Afterwards, we went for a drink with our teachers to the Plaza de America between orange trees, flowers, pavilions and an avenue of palm trees. The Plaza de America was also very beautiful, with large fountains between the impressive Museum of Popular Arts and the Archaeological Museum, creating a very nice ambience. There were also a lot of pigeons in the square itself, you could feed them and suddenly they were sitting on Lina’s head. After a short break, we went with the other groups to the Museum of Popular Arts. There were many old-fashioned rooms to look at from the outside, and there were also many painted tiles and vases typical of Seville on display, and even though we probably wouldn’t have expected it beforehand, we all developed an interest in the beautiful tiles. Just like everything else in the city, the museum was beautifully built and had a lovely, detailed courtyard. After we had all walked through the museum, we headed off to get something to eat. When we arrived at the pizzeria, we were all a bit sceptical. But the food (even though it wasn’t typically Spanish) still convinced us all. The rest of the day we were able to take advantage of the beautiful weather ourselves and took the tram into the city centre to an old gold tower, the Torre del Oro. The view from the tower was very nice, then we enjoyed the good weather while walking along the banks of the Guadalquivir. Mrs Wilneder’s daughter, Lorena, who has been going to school in Seville for about half a year, came with us and told us a lot about life and school in Spain. Meanwhile, Marcel went on a ship with Mrs Wilneder and it turned out that he is a real expert on ships. When they came down from the ship again, we walked along the promenade for a while and over a bridge to the other side of the river. There we had a quick look at a well-known market hall, but its stalls were already closed, and walked through the small streets. Everywhere in the city there are orange trees and great houses, which have a unique and very beautiful, detailed architectural style. Mrs Wilneder and Mrs Birkelbach told us that no matter how often you walk through the streets, you can always discover new things, we can all understand that now. In the alleyways we then went to a porcelain shop where almost everything was made of porcelain, of course there were also tiles. At the end of the day, we went back to the city centre to get something to eat nearby. Together we did typical Spanish bar hopping, where you eat small snacks in one bar and then move on to the next. We were accompanied by a friend of Mrs Birkelbach, who was very nice. Since we were all a bit tired, we went to eat in a Spanish restaurant with Lorena, who helped us to communicate. Late in the evening, we took a taxi back to our hotel, as we unfortunately missed the last bus because we spontaneously wanted to eat an ice cream. When we arrived at the hotel, it was already Oliver’s birthday.
Report: Z. Brodehl, Q1
Day 4 – 07/04/22
On Thursday, we were all still pretty flattened and tired from the day before, but the weather was good and we were in a good mood. After breakfast together, we made our way to our partner school. Like every day, we were one of the first groups to arrive. In the auditorium there were various presentations by the other schools, singing together and a flamenco dance performance by Spanish students, plus donuts and super sweet juice. After these really interesting items on the programme, there was a two-hour long lecture on the history of the opera in Seville. Although the Spanish music teacher really tried hard, unfortunately one or two of us dozed off during this (actually all except Marcel, for which we still admire him).
Afterwards, we walked together as a large group to a non-profit restaurant in the school’s neighbourhood and ate gazpacho and paella and celebrated Oliver’s birthday. By now it had become really hot and after lunch there was some free time before we met up with the big group for a little walking tour of the city centre. A few of us went back to the hotel to rest or start packing. Zoe and I went to the city centre once before and happened to see that the queue for the medieval Royal Palace of Seville, which is usually super long, was only a few metres long on this day.
We then spoke to Ms Birkelbach and Ms Wilneder on the phone and decided to join the city tour later and go to the Alcázar. Parts of the last season of “Game of Thrones” were filmed in the Alcàzar and the grounds with a large palace and huge parks are also really impressive. Later we found out that the queue was so small because an opera concert was taking place there that evening and then closed earlier for other visitors. The orchestra had rehearsed there earlier, so we were able to explore the palace with orchestral music. At some point, however, the courtyard filled up with very chic people in suits and evening gowns and we unfortunately had to leave, which was just right, though, as we met the others there directly.
Thursday was unfortunately our last evening in Seville and it was very hard for some of us to say goodbye, even though we had only known each other for a few days. We made friends especially with the group from Latvia, so we went out for tapas with them afterwards. Mrs. Wilneder and Mrs. Birkelbach made every effort throughout the trip to ensure that we got to know as much Spanish culture as possible and also ate typical Spanish food. So on the last evening we ordered our favourite tapas again, lots of patatas bravas and pimientos.
Back at the hotel, we all packed our bags and fell into bed, because we had to get up very early the next morning to fly back to Germany. We really enjoyed our time in Seville and would have liked to stay longer. Despite the age differences, we were a great group. We are also very grateful to have had two such great teachers with us, who are themselves so enthusiastic about Seville that it is simply contagious.
Report: F. Rogowski, Q1
Photos: L. Tran, Z. Brodehl, F. Rogowski, M. Leuchter