Live Blog: St Paul’s students and staff are in Spain!


The students are keeping a live blog of their visit to Spain.  Please feel free to leave comments below.

Day 5 – Thursday 23rd October 2014

Visitamos la Universidad de Málaga, luego viajamos a Nerja, antes de yendo a Miramar en Fuengirola.

This morning everyone got up as usual, had breakfast and assembled in the games room to collect their money for the day. This morning we had to leave punctually, as we had an appointment to have a talk at the University of Málaga at 10am. We travelled down the motorway, past the city centre and pulled up outside the modern-looking Health Sciences campus before meeting our guide, Noelia. We watched a PowerPoint presentation of different aspects and courses available from the various faculties at the university, followed by a question and answer session with some of the senior students.

After our guided tour around departments such as podiatry and physiotherapy, we hopped on the coach and headed east towards the caves of Nerja. About an hour later we pulled up at the entrance to the caves, got our audio-guides from the tour guide and descended into the deep and dark caves below. Walking through the caves we looked at some spectacular views

Having completed our guided tour, we climbed aboard the bus, which was bound for Nerja Pueblo. It was reaching late afternoon at this stage, so we decided to get lunch in the picturesque village. We enjoyed the light, Mediterranean breeze, as we enjoyed panoramic views across the Costa del Sol. With everyone accounted for, we then ‘hit the road’ for Mijas. The bus journey, approximately 1 hour, arrived at the TRH at about 5pm.

With this early arrival, we enjoyed some swimming pool time. After everyone had showered after the pool, we then headed to Miramar Shopping Complex in Fuengirola. We were grateful for the 3 hours of free time we had to roam the hundreds of shops. With most people heading to get dinner at the various restaurants, we decided that we would meet up at 10:45; in order to board the bus back to Mijas.

On the journey home, Jacqui explained to us about the activities for the following day. We were informed to go to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel because we had a busy day ahead of us.

Day 4 – Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Vamos a Ronda, visitamos a Puerta Banús y nos relajamos en el hotel.

The day started as usual, with everyone enjoying their breakfasts, however, this morning, we had to leave earlier than usual as we were heading to Ronda, just over an hours drive away in the mountains north of Málaga. With everyone accounted for, we left Mijas for the long journey to Ronda.

After leaving the main motorway around Marbella, we drove into the mountains with breathtaking scenery, following long, winding roads until we arrived in the bus station in Ronda at about 11am. Because it was now approaching midday, temperatures soared to just above 30 degrees, meaning everyone had extra sun cream on hand.

We entered the ‘Plaza de Toros’ (The Bullring), in Ronda, where bullfighting was founded, originally to train cavalry soldiers. We got a guided tour from an official guide who gave us a detailed history into the rich culture. He explained how the bullfights in Ronda only occur on the first Sunday in September of every year.

Afterwards, we walked through the cobbled streets and were taken aback by a huge man-made gorge; called ‘la puenta nueva’, and it is a massive drop. Having continued the rest of the tour of Ronda, we gathered together to have a much needed McDonalds; kindly paid for by the teachers. After our lunch, we proceeded back to the bus, where we made our way back to Mijas.

On the journey home, we stopped in Puerta Banús, on the outskirts of Marbella; and viewed a variety of huge, private yachts, surrounded by Mercedes’, BMW’s, Range Rover’s and Corvette’s. We all browsed through the local shops and gift shops, where we were taken aback by the extreme prices of the items. Upon our arrival in Mijas, we enjoyed a relaxing night in, with some students playing the odd game of pool with the more experienced Mr McAvoy.

At about 11pm, we all headed for bed for the busy day that was to follow.

Day 3 – Tuesday 21st October 2014

Vamos a Fuengirola de Benálmadena en el barco y en el Mercado de Fuengirola.

This morning we all got up for breakfast at 8:30am and after another lovely breakfast looking over the Mediterranean Sea, we gathered together to board the bus and set off for the Port of Benalmadena. After about a half an hour driving along the ‘autopista’ (motorway), and through Benalmadena we eventually reached the port where we would catch our cruise along the coast of the Costa del Sol to Fuengirola.

The boat was quite crowded, so with everyone grabbing any seat they coat, the captain slowly started the engine, steered us out of the marina before opening up the throttles for the 1 hour journey. Sailing along the coast we could see Benalmadena, Torrequebrada and Fuengirola, and then we docked along side numerous expensive-looking yachts.

By now it was approaching 12 noon, and it was beginning to get very hot with temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s, so most people topped up on sun cream as we followed our guide, José Antonio, to the market in Fuengirola. When we arrived at the main entrance, we were sorted into our groups, and each leader was given a list of items in Spanish and €10, and our challenge was to buy all these items for the cheapest price and in the shortest time, by bargaining with the market traders.

After about an hour, Mr McMahon’s team was successful, although some other teams’ members disputed that. With everyone now feeling hungry and very thirsty in the hot Mediterranean heat we decided to head for somewhere where we knew nearly everyone would like; Burger King. With ‘Double Whoppers’ and large Diet Cokes finished, José Antonio took us back to ‘la Puerto de Fuengirola’ (the Port of Fuengirola), where we again caught the ferry (which thankfully wasn’t as busy this time), and speeded along the coastline back to the Port of Benalmadena.

On the bus journey back to the hotel, the leaders told us that we could go to the pool when we got back. Even though the water seemed very cold, hardly anybody minded after a while because it was so warm, even at half past five in the afternoon.

As everybody began to leave for their rooms, we were told that we were going to have a quiz tonight after dinner, so after our meal we made our way up to the games room near reception, while some of the older students went to organize the questions they wanted to ask to the Univeristy in Málaga on Thursday. After, we headed to bed for some much needed sleep.

Day 2: Monday 20 October 2014:

Visitamos al colegio de Mijas, tomar el telecabina y nadiendo en a piscina.

We were told to meet up at 8:30am this morning for a lovely breakfast looking over the Costa del Sol. After plenty of helpings of eggs, sausages, bacon and toast we met up in reception before making our way through the streets of Mijas to ‘el Ayuntamiento’ (the town hall), to meet the principal of our link school, and the head of the Department for Education in Andalucía. We asked them questions about their roles, before being presented with gifts – little ‘arm bags’ for our loose change. Following a few group photographs and selfies with some members of ‘la Policía Local’ (the local police), we were given some free time to explore the streets.

We met together at the donkey, the centre-point of Mijas, at 1pm. We boarded the bus and embarked for El Colegio de Mijas, approximately 15 minutes away. After a very warm welcome from both the students and staff, we engaged in a variety of ‘ice-breaking’ activities with our new Spanish friends. After, we were presented with Spanish Tortillas and a refreshing beverage. Some of our students played a game of football with the Spanish students and then we said goodbye; and headed towards the bus.

We travelled to Benálmadena where we prepared to climb onboard the cable cars. With each cable car holding four people, we ascended up the mountainside; taking in breathtaking views of the Costa del Sol. Upon our arrival on the mountaintop, a tour guide greeted us, who took us to a viewing point overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and in the distance, through the haze; we could see a few glimpses of Morocco on the north coast of Africa.

We hopped on the cable cars once again and made our way to the bottom, where we caught the bus back to the hotel. When we reached the reception, our leaders told us we could use the pool, so in less than half and hour almost everyone was enjoying themselves in the hotel’s outdoor pool. Following this, the teachers asked us to meet up in the restaurant at 7:30pm for our evening meal, which was very tasty.

Just after 8pm we once again met outside the hotel’s reception for a short walk around the winding cobbled streets of the village, and told about our ‘treasure hunt’ for tomorrow. After a short stop in a local shop to buy some refreshments we all made our way back to the hotel and were given some free time to enjoy ourselves before going to bed.


Day 1: Sunday 19 October 2014:

Vamos a España.

This morning, we met together at St Paul’s at 10:30 and after a group photo, we excitedly boarded the bus, which would take us to Belfast City Airport. After the 50-minute bus journey, we gathered at the check-in desks. After everyone was successfully booked on, we continued to the security checks.

Having successfully checked-in, we proceeded to the gate where we waited to board the aircraft. Soon everyone was onboard and the plane taxied to the runway. After a short while, the captain spooled up the engines and we were off into the sky! Although there was some turbulence along the way, the majority of the flight was uneventful and three hours later, we touched down at Málaga Costa del Sol Airport.

We all collected our bags and passed through immigration and customs, before heading downstairs to catch the bus bound for Mijas. Upon leaving the underground coach station, we felt the full blast of 27°C as we cruised along the motorway and through the hills for about 30 minutes; before arriving in the picturesque village of Mijas Pueblo.

As the bus driver and a few students hauled the bags off the coach, we went to our allocated rooms and got settled in and familiarized ourselves with the hotel. At 7:45pm, we met in reception for our evening meal, which we all enjoyed, especially the selection of ice cream after dinner. With everyone more or less full, we handed over our passports, EHICs and money to our team leaders.

After a long day of travelling, we headed to bed for some much needed sleep.

¡Hasta Mañana!


Sounds brilliant!!God am I jealous! The only thing spanish here is the end of hurricane Gonzalo!!
Hope the present shopping has started. Keep an eye out for Barca strip!!
Hope Rachel and Eimear are coming out of themselves and talking more!
Say hola to all my Year 11 former pupils!!
Hasta la vista!!

by mary mc mahon on 21/10/2014 at 5:12 pm #

Really enjoying this blog, it’s great to keep up with all the days activities. Freezing back home so enjoy every bit of the sunshine. Keep the pics coming too.
A special hola to Rachael & Natasha

by Catherine Halpenny on 21/10/2014 at 8:05 pm #

We are very jealous here. Delighted to hear you are having such a good time. Enjoy your next few days.

by Ann O'Hare on 22/10/2014 at 4:07 pm #

Had a great time in Spain. Very priveleged to have been with such a great bunch of students last week. The craic was great.
Saw and visited many memorable places. Undoubtedly one of the best trips I have ever been on.
Congratulations to all the staff involved who worked tirelessly to make this Spanish trip so memorable.

by paddy mcavoy on 28/10/2014 at 6:41 pm #

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