Spanish Trip to Cantabria May 2018

A group of year 8 and year 9 pupils have just returned from a very successful Spanish trip to Cantabria during which they tried out their Spanish skills, sampled Spanish food and visited some of the region’s best known attractions, all rounded off with retail therapy in a Bilbao shopping centre.

We had a smooth journey with Easyjet and our three first-time flyers coped very well indeed. The one and a half hour coach journey from Bilbao took us to the pretty little town of Santillana del Mar and Hotel Hildagos, which was to be our home for the next 3 days. There was a lovely park right in front of the hotel, which quickly became the favourite spot to gather with friends, join in with various ball games and practice our Spanish at the ice cream kiosk.

We packed a lot into our first day out with a visit to an artisan cheese maker, where Álvaro told us about the various cheeses that are made on his farm and we had the opportunity to get involved in the process of making ‘Fresh Cheese’, a simple white cheese which is consumed in vast quantities in Spain. Lots of the group got stuck in, but Levent and Hessa were the real stars of the show!

After picnic lunch in the sunshine, we headed off for the Soplao Caves, where we went deep underground into a network of caverns stretching around 22 kilometres and saw the most amazing examples of stalactites and stalagmites.

The next day our visit to the Cabárceno Natural Park was everyone’s favourite. The park was developed on the site of a former open cast iron mine, and extends over almost 2000 acres of stunning gorges, lakes and plateaux. We visited in an open top bus, with regular stops for our driver to tell us about the great conservation work that happens here and for us to get a close look at some of the animals. The bear and elephant enclosures were superb examples of how the animals here live in an environment as close as possible to their natural habitat and we all enjoyed seeing a pair of young white rhino twins play fighting like brothers do. An unexpected bonus came at lunch time, in the shape of a school party from Guadeloupe who some of our group quickly made friends with and practiced their Spanglais.

With the sun still shining brightly, we spent an hour exploring Santillana del Mar before splitting into our groups for a lesson in the kitchen with the hotel’s cook. She spoke only Spanish so we all had to try to understand and follow her instructions, with varying degrees of success! She nominated the first team as the best by far and they were duly rewarded with prizes on the way home.

Paco and his team at the hotel were all really welcoming, patient and kind with our group, whose behaviour massively outshone the other school group staying there at the same time. Well done Sally Nook. You did us proud!

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