Adventure - Art - Culture - Juniors Abroad at George Fox

Spain to Morocco

Faculty: David Martinez, Viki Defferding
Meeting: Monday - 6:30 - 9:00PM

Student Cost: $2200

From the “Convivencia” of the 8th century (when Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted in relative peace) to the Muslim occupation of the peninsula and their subsequent expulsion in 1492, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco have had quite a storied history with numerous encounters. Moorish influence remains apparent and visible especially in southern cities in Spain. This trip aims at exposing students to the rich interplay between these three cultures as we travel through and navigate various cultural centers, paying close attention to the relationship between each country

 Our visit begins in Madrid, Spain where we will visit world famous museums (El Prado and Reina Sofía) and other sites such as the Temple of Debod – an Egyptian temple in downtown Madrid – and Parque Retiro – Madrid’s own “Central Park”, in which we will also visit the Cristal Palace. We will then head to Toledo, a beautiful walled city referred to as the “City of the Three Cultures” given the significant impact of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures. Well known as a center for sword making, Toledo will capture your imagination as you stroll through cobblestone streets and narrow alleys.

From Toledo we will go to Lisbon where we will visit the Jerónimos Monastery, ride the funicular system (cable car), which offers spectacular views of the city, and taste the celebrated (and delicious) Pasteis de Belem.

From Lisbon we will travel south into the famed Algarve (the southern coast of Portugal). On our way to Lagos, we will stop at Cabo san Vicente, which is the “corner” of Europe and boasts tremendous views of the ocean from 75 meter high cliffs (reminiscent of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland). In Lagos we will spend a few days relaxing by the beach, kayaking through rock formations and into caves, and enjoying the local cuisine (you will try the best seafood you have ever tasted here). From Lagos we will make our way to Sevilla, but we will also stop along the way in a little walled town called Niebla. Niebla is famous for its castle and, in particular, well-kept dungeons that feature a “Torture Museum”.

In Sevilla we will be met with our host families with whom we will be staying for five days. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish – part of the experience is full immersion and you will quickly learn to get by with gestures and a few key words. In Sevilla we will visit the Cathedral, climb the famous Giralda, visit the “Real Alcázar” (now famous for being the site where Game of Thrones is filmed), the Plaza España (a beautiful plaza featured in several movies such as Star Wars (the prequels) and The Dictator), El Parque María Luisa (Sevilla’s own “Central Park”). We will also see a flamenco show, a bull-fight (optional), and a professional soccer game. Furthermore, we will attend an evangelical worship service and enjoy lunch with the members after the service to provide an opportunity to engage and fellowship with them.

From Sevilla we will take a day trip to Aracena, a nearby town with a castle, caves, and “Museo del Jamón”. From Sevilla we will travel to Gibraltar and, hopefully, see the famous (and cunning) Barbary Macaques: beware for they will snag anything they can from snacks to hats to small bags. We will cross the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangiers where our Moroccan adventure begins. This segment of the trip will take us through Rabat (and possibly Kenitra for some surfing or simply to enjoy the beach), Marrakech, and Casablanca. Prior to ending in Casablanca, we will spend three days in the Sahara Desert where we will have the opportunity to ride camels and sleep in a tent encampment. Our final day in Casablanca we will search (probably in vain) for Sam and request that he play “As Time Goes By”. As a final resort, Profesora Viki and I will lead the group in our very own rendition of said song.

Although no specific physical requirements are necessary for this trip, it will involve quite a bit of walking. We ask that you come prepared with good walking shoes and a great attitude for experiencing and trying new things. We will be traveling in and out of different cultures so an open mind will be necessary.

Preiminary Itinerary:

Day 1:   Arrive in Madrid – transfer to hotel, orientation walk through downtown Madrid, which will include visiting Plaza Mayor, Temple of Debod (an ancient Egyptian temple that sits in downtown Madrid), Plaza España, and Puerta de Sol.

Day 2:    Madrid - Visit the Royal Palace and the Parque Retiro (the Central Park of Madrid), which can include a boat ride, bike rentals, and a visit to the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal). In the afternoon we will visit the Prado museum. 

Day 3:    Madrid – Visit the Reina Sofía museum and Atocha train station. In the afternoon we will travel to Toledo.

Day 4:   Toledo – In the morning we will tour this medieval walled city (renowned for sword-making). In the afternoon we will have free time. 

Day 5:    Six hour bus ride from Toledo to Lisbon through the beautiful country-side.

Day 6:    In Lisbon we will visit the Jerónimos Monastery, ride the funicular system (cable car), and taste the celebrated (and delicious) Pasteis de Belem.

Day 7:    Bus ride from Lisbon to Lagos stopping along the way to visit Cabo san Vincente – the corner of Europe with 75 meter cliffs (reminiscent of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland). The afternoon will be spent at the beach in Lagos (volleyball, soccer, or just taking in the sun).

Day 8:     A kayaking trip through rock formations/caves off the coast of Portugal. In the afternoon/evening, students will have free time, but we will meet for dinner for a ‘sardinada’ (sardines and other typical cuisine).

Day 9:     Travel from Lagos to Sevilla (3 hours by bus). On the way, we will stop in Niebla to tour an old walled town and visit a castle famous for its dungeons complete with a “torture museum”. Upon arrival in Sevilla, students will meet their host families. In the afternoon/evening, we will have an orientation of the city of Sevilla – a walking tour down La Avenida de la Constitución and will end the day at a bullfight (this activity is optional).

Day 10:    We will visit the Cathedral and La Giralda. In the afternoon/evening we will go to a flamenco show followed by tapas in downtown Sevilla.

Day 11:    A visit to Real Alcázar (beautiful royal palace where numerous Game of Thrones scenes were filmed). In the afternoon/evening we will go to a soccer game.

Day 12:   We will attend a church service with local sevillanos followed by a community lunch. Free time in the afternoon/evening.

Day 13:    A day trip to nearby Aracena where we will visit underground caves, a castle, and “El Museo del Jamón” (Ham museum – yes, they let you sample the ham and, yes, it’s quite delicious).

Day 14:   We will travel from Sevilla to Gibraltar.

Day 15:    We will take the ferry from Gibraltar to Tangiers, Morocco. 

Day 16:    We will travel to Rabat where we will visit the Hassan Tower and Tomb, Andalusian Gardens, and, if time permits, head to nearby Kenitra for an afternoon/evening of surfing or simply relaxing by the beach.

Day 17:    We will travel to Marrakech where we will visit the Koutoubia Mosque, Saadian Tombs, Old Medina Souks (market), and observe (from a distance) the snake charmers in Jemaa el-Fnaa. 

Day 18-20: Sahara Desert Tour: A three day trip into the High Atlas Mountains in the Sahara Desert. We will stay in tented encampments and have the opportunity to ride camels.

Day 21:   We will end in beautiful and romantic Casablanca where we will search for Sam and ask him to play “As Time Goes By”. Even if he doesn’t, we’ll always have Paris so here’s looking at you kid. 

Day 22:  Return to Portland.