Monday, July 9
In the afternoon, students were led to another of San Sebastián‘s beautiful mountains, Monte Igeldo. To reach the mountain, the students took a stroll along the beautiful promenade of the famous La Concha beach, taking a short rest on the brilliant green lawn of Miramar Palace, previously the preferred summer retreat of the Spanish Queen Maria Cristina, who believed the beautiful waters of La Concha had a healing effect on the body. The students then boarded a funicular (cable train) for the short ride up to the summit of Monte Igeldo. Atop Igeldo, students encountered stunning views of La Concha, the bay with its island (Isla Santa Clara), Monte Urgull, and the city. Also on the summit is a tiny amusement park dating back to the early 20th century. Students enjoyed its quaint antique attractions, like the “Río Misterioso” (Mysterious River) and the “Montaña Suiza” (a very small roller coaster). Students descended the mountain once again via the funicular and were free to enjoy the city before returning to their homestays for dinner.
Tuesday, July 10
This afternoon students went on a visit to the Museo San Telmo, which is inside an old convent with beautiful architecture. Students learned about Basque history, such as whaling, ancient tools and dress, etc. There was also a special exhibit on mythological art, featuring 2000-year-old sculptures from ancient Rome and lots of medieval art depicting the various myths of ancient Rome and Greece.
Wednesday, July 11
Students took a private coach to Pamplona, in Navarra Province, to experience the Fiestas de San Fermín, also known internationally as the “running of the bulls”. An early start got the students to Pamplona by 7:30 AM. The directors led the students to the Plaza de Toros, where the crowd was entertained by live music in the center of the stadium. Later, the running of the bulls began and the students could watch the action on large monitors inside the stadium. Finally, the runners started pouring into the arena below, followed shortly thereafter by the bulls! The bulls were guided into their pen and the runners shouted and celebrated below. Soon thereafter, the “vaquillas” or little cows were brought out one by one. Smaller and not quite as aggressive as the bulls, the runners then spend time in the arena dodging the charges of the vaquillas. Afterward, the students were treated to a breakfast of churros and chocolate in a nearby plaza. Finally, students were given free time to explore the area and do some souvenir shopping before heading back to San Sebastián in the early afternoon.
Thursday, July 12
Tuesday was a free day with the optional activity of dance lessons, specifically rumba flamenca, which is a traditional Spanish dance style with its origins in Andalucía (southern Spain), but with a Cuban flair (rumba). Many students opted to participate and had a great time learning a new way to dance!
Friday, July 13
After classes, students took a short train ride through the beautiful Basque countryside to Zumaia, a nearby coastal pueblo. Zumaia has garnered some fame in recent years for being a shooting location for the massive hit Spanish film Ocho Apellidos Vascos as well as a shooting location for the mega-popular HBO series Game of Thrones. It is also home to a unique geological formation, known as the flysch, which are layers of exposed sedimentary rock, creating a breathtaking rugged coastline. Students enjoyed a short hike along the coastline as well as some free time to explore the beach, complete with mini sea-caves and centuries-old stone fortifications.
Saturday, July 14
This Saturday’s day trip took the students to the nearby city of Bilbao, the largest in the Spanish Basque Country. Students were guided to the famous Guggenheim Museum where they marveled at a large variety of modern art, from the famous giant “Puppy” sculpture made of flowers that towers just outside the museum to strange multimedia artworks from China that both intrigued and bewildered! After the museum, students were free to explore Bilbao for several hours before heading back to San Sebastián.
Sunday, June 15
Free day! Students spent the day enjoying San Sebastián as they wished!