Spanish Trip 2013: Blog


St Paul’s students and their teachers are currently visiting Spain.  We’ve asked the students to keep a blog, which you can follow below.

Day 5:  Thursday 24 October 2013

Jueves – Visitamos el Colegio Internacional de Torrequebrada y la ciudad de Málaga.

This morning was our earliest start, and so many students were feeling a little tired but were still raring to go!!.  However, two particular students still forgot to set their alarms for the time change, and so ended up getting up one hour later!!- we won’t mention any names ladies!.  After everyone was accounted for, we hit the road for the other school we were going to visit – El Colegio Internacional  de Torrequebrada, a private school situated along the coast en route to Málaga city.

On the bus, DJ Daly’s (#djdaly) assistance was not required on this particular leg of our journey apart from the fact that it was too early for his daily beats we were practicing for the small presentation which we had prepared for the students at our second link school.  When we arrived, we noticed straight away the difference between this school and our other link school- a public school- it was a very modern build with very impressive resources and facilities.  We entered the school and were greeted by a large group of students but in this school they were all in uniforms; although the students in public school (Colegio de Mijas) were able to dress in their own clothes.  We then made our way to the school’s assembly hall which was very much unlike what we expected.  The seats resembled that of which you would see in a conference centre.  The school’s crest was on the seats.  After short presentations by several students (of a range of nationalities)in the school, we got up to make our presentation about Irish culture, music and dance.  We had some Irish dancing from Shauna and Aoife, a few verses of ‘Galway Girl’ sung by Tara and Hannah, and some wise words of Irish from Fer Diad.

After everyone had finished their presentations and the students from Torrequebrada went back to their normal classes, we were taken on a tour around the fantastic school facilities.  The teachers took us to the filming and radio studios, where we had a professional recording session with  some students being interviewed for the radio station including DJ Daly and numerous others.  Thanking the students and teachers for their welcome, we then left for Málaga city, taking in the beautiful scenery of the Costa del Sol on the way.

After a drive of about 30 minutes, we arrived outside the massive cathedral in Málaga, a huge tourist attraction in this historic city.  We were told that we had just less than 2 hours to explore the shops, cafes and tourist attractions along la Calle Larios, and then we had to meet back up at the cathedral to start the official guided tour.  Most students were quite hungry at this stage so the majority of us first went to get something to eat and some sampled the tapas recommended by our teachers however others preferred more familiar fare as served in McDonald’s!

We all gathered back at the cathedral at 2pm, students showing each other what they had bought, and some of the ladies were very pleased with their purchases. We walked towards the Picasso Museum (Museo  de Picasso), and met our tour guides for the day. Unfortunately, the Picasso section of the museum was closed due to it being renovated, so we were shown round the exhibition entitled: ‘Hilma af Klint: A Pioneer of Abstraction.’ Hilma af Klint was a Swedish painter, who pioneered in abstract art.

After being shown around the exhibition, our tour guides took us to, ‘La Alcazaba,’ the historic part of Málaga city. We were taken to visit the Venetian walls; a Roman amphitheatre and an old fortress built by the Moors, and told of the rich history of the area.  When the tour had finished it was nearly 4:30pm, so we said goodbye to the friendly tour guides, boarded the coach and headed back to the hotel so that we could spend a couple of hours by the pool. Today was one of the hottest days since we arrived, so the pool was much warmer than yesterday and the day before, we took advantage of this and had lots of fun with students and staff.

After everyone got showered and dressed, we met in the reception and then went to have dinner for the evening, and after a delicious meal of Paella, we again hopped on the bus and drove to the marina in Benálmadena.  During the journey, music was once again provided by DJ Daly.  Tonight, his setlist included a lot of upbeat songs which we all sang along with- even the teachers.

At our arrival in Puerto Marina, we un-boarded the bus and were told that we had until 11:00pm to explore the area in our groups.  Some students wanted to get something to eat whilst others wanted to visit the shops.

On arrival at the TRH (hotel), Mrs Murray spoke to us through the microphone telling us that tomorrow was going to be a big day and that we would get a slightly longer lie-in; to much appreciation and relief of many students.  We then un-boarded the bus, entered the hotel and tiredly stumbled down the quiet hotel halls to our beds and within minutes, we were all asleep.


Day 4: Wednesday 23 October 2013

Miércoles – Una clase de educación fisica con los estudiantes españoles en la playa, una nadar en la piscina

We walked slowly down to the restaurant for breakfast this morning, as some students were still half asleep after the late night coming home from the cinema.  After consuming our breakfast we were instructed to meet up at 9:30am, in order to discuss what was planned for the day, and also so students could deposit their money if they wanted.

Just after 10am, we gathered outside the Hotel Mijas and boarded our coach for the local school. After a short journey with another few tunes from DJ Daly, we arrived outside the school entrance and greeted the Spanish students, who were very pleased to see us.  The school had organised hot chestnuts for us a typical custom at this time of year and a very welcome treat.  After that we took a short stroll down the street, crossing the road to the beach (playa) for a PE lesson.

On our arrival, we noticed that the PE teachers from el Colegio de Mijas, had set up various sections on the beach designated to allow us to play several different types of games.  For example, volleyball, football (futból), rugby and tennis.  We were able to get into groups with our Spanish friends and begin the 2 hour session of activities.

At the end, a lot of people enjoyed a quick dip in the cool Mediterranean Sea.  When we all finished, we put our shoes and socks back on and we headed to the nearby shop (la tienda) and purchased some cold beverages.  We all had the opportunity to talk to each other and have the craic.

Later, we departed the beach and made our way back to the school where we were greeted by the smell of food; of which we were in much need of.  We walked into the cafeteria, and met the principal (el director), along with some of the kitchen staff, who had made a sample of Spanish omelette (la tortilla español) for each of us. Era muy riquisimo (It was delicious), and everyone’s dishes were empty. One of the kitchen staff demonstrated to us how to make these delicious omelettes.

After a short journey while rehearsing the taize chant for our Mass later in the evening, we returned to the hotel and headed for the pool (la piscina), where it was a bit warmer than yesterday. We splashed about for about 40 minutes, and then made our way back to our rooms to have some very warm showers. While waiting to go the ‘Plaza de Toros’ in Mijas, we talked in the games room.

At about 4:30pm, we headed for the Plaza de Toros (Bullring).  Our journey was interrupted on several occasions as Mrs Murray and Jacqui felt the need to enter some clothes and shoe shops but failed to make any worthwhile purchases. After a short stroll up the hill, some students bought some ice cream lollies and drinks from a local stall, as it was still very warm. Our guide took us into the Plaza de Toros, behind which we saw the most amazing view of the Costa del Sol. The interesting thing about Mijas’ Bullring is that it is not very circular as with most bullrings, but more of a square shape.  This can be dangerous because in the square, the bullfighter (el matador) may become cornered by the bull.

We were then told to meet at the statue of the donkey at 6:30pm, so that we could be on time for the Mass later that evening. So until then some students went back to the hotel to change into something more suitable for the cooler evening, and others went around the shops in Mijas. At 6:45pm, we walked towards the old chapel, carved into a cave from the rock, after two first cousins of St. Teresa believed that they saw the Virgin Mary appear in 1586. It is believed that St. Teresa visited the cave herself.  At 7pm, the Mass began with us singing the Taize chant that Mr McMahon provided us with early that afternoon. The priest was very friendly, and he gave us a message that we should think positively, and not let negative thoughts influence us. The Mass was said for all who looked after us; our parents, teachers, grandparents and any relatives that had passed on- it was a very special and emotional experience for all concerned.

We all felt good after the Mass, and as we walked down the street (calle), we felt the cool, light breeze hitting our faces as the warm sun began to dip below the horizon on the Mediterranean Sea.  As soon as we walked into the hotel, we immediately went to the restaurant, and gobbled down a delicious meal.

We then gathered in the computer and pool room.  Some sat at the tables and had the craic; whilst the boys engaged in another pool competition.

Hasta Mañana!

Beach fun Plaza de Toros

Day 3: Tuesday 22 October 2013

Martes – Bargaining in the Market, Barbeque in the park with the local students and splashing around in the pool.

This morning we got a bit more of a lie in, to the relief of some students after our very busy day yesterday.  We enjoyed our breakfast, and as we ate, we enjoyed watching the sun come up over the Costa del Sol and the Mediterranean Sea.  After discussing what was planned for the day’s activities, we boarded the bus and headed for ‘El Mercado Fuengirola,’ the market in Fuengirola.  We were then told that we must buy the ingredients for the barbeque later that day, but we also had to bargain (en español, of course) with the market traders for the best price.

Before we started the challenge, we were offered 45 minutes to walk around the market and buy anything we liked.  When we returned, the challenge began! The teacher gave each team their shopping list along with €10, and we had to buy everything on the list for less than that amount. All the teams raced to the fruit and vegetable stalls. With a lot of ‘más descuentod!’ (more discount!) being shouted at the market traders and a couple of compliments thrown in, every team eventually managed to get all they needed. In the end Mrs. Murray’s group, under the supervision of Mr McMahon, won the challenge, buying more than enough food with 10 cents to spare.

With the goods that we had bought in the market in hand, we again boarded the coach and headed for a park just outside Fuengirola where we could have our barbeque.  By the time we got to the park, two of the very friendly local guides had begun to prepare the barbeque, and after we were joined by some students from the local school, we tucked into delicious hamburguesas, pollo y chorizo picante (hamburgers, chicken and spicy chorizo).

After a delicious lunch and some intimate goodbyes, we departed for the hotel again, and on the journey we were told that we would be allowed in the pool for a couple of hours, so when we arrived at the hotel, everyone raced to their rooms to get swim suits, towels, spare clothes, etc. and within the hour everyone was either in the pool or sitting at the pool side.  Today was the coolest day we have experienced since we arrived, so the pool was very cold, but that little factor did not deter many.  We were all in the pool when Mr McMahon went a bit too close to the poolside , and, well, let’s just say he got “a bit” wet (under direction from Miss Mulholland!!!)

When we felt that it was time to exit the pool, we hurriedly headed to our rooms to get warm showers and put on clean clothes.  At random intervals, people made their ways to the lobby.  The boys went into the pool room to enter a competition with some experienced Dutch tourists; but the Dutch tourists were beaten by the students from St. Paul’s.  Some of us relaxed in the computer room in the massage chairs and enjoyed a ten minute massage.

We gathered in el restaurante for our dinner and after, we boarded the bus bound for Plaza Mayor in Málaga.  The journey was very eventful considering that a portable disco (discoteca) took place.  The disco, excitedly organised by DJ Daly, was packed with all music from Queen to Avicii.  Daly put his phone to the microphone on the bus and blasted out the tunes.

After about a 25 minute journey, we arrived at Plaza Mayor.  We un-boarded the bus and joined the extremely long queue.  Thanks to Jacqui, we got to skip the queue and were given the opportunity to roam the north side of the Plaza Mayor for 1 hour.  Some of us sat in an outdoor pizzeria and watched the AC Milan and Barcelona match.  We also enjoyed the fact that the Plaza Mayor was situated right in front of Málaga airport and the departing aircraft flew right over our heads so low that you felt like you could nearly touch them.  We saw everything from easyJet, Ryanair and even our native Aer Lingus.

At 10:00pm, we met outside the cinema complex (cine), and went to get out popcorn and drinks, but we had to hurry because the film was about to start and the queue was extremely long.  A great nights craic was had by all.

After another drive with music from DJ Daly, we disembarked the bus and entered the hotel, tired after a long day. We gathered in the hotel’s reception, where the teachers advised us to ‘hit the sack,’ as we had a busy day the next day.

Hasta Mañana!

Bargaining with the market traders

Day 2: Monday 21 October 2013

Lunes – visitamos el ayuntamiento, el colegi de Mijas y telecabina.

After an early start, we got our delicious Spanish breakfast (desayuno) in el restaurante.  We had a brief meeting discussing the day’s activities.  A lot of us enjoyed the beautiful sunrise across the Costa Del Sol.  Later, we met downstairs and began to walk to the Ayuntamiento; which is the main government building in Mijas.  We waited outside the Ayuntamiento until the principal of the Mijas School formally welcomed us to the area.  We all gathered around the donkey statue in the grounds of the Town Hall and some of us; including Jacqui, climbed upon the donkey for some fun photos.

The principal spoke to us in Spanish and soon, the Alcalde de Mijas (the Mayor) and the Minister for Education for the Andalucian Region (which is the biggest state in Spain) arrived to address us and bring us into the “Sala de Plenos”.

In the Town Hall we participated in a symbolic exchange of gifts- we had brought a lovely plaque and a hand crafted Lorsha tie from Newry and Mourne Council to present to el alcalde and we were all given lovely souvenirs which we will treasure forever.

After this tour we had a surprise visit to a local museum which we all found to be very interesting and we were impressed by the amazing local artistry. Before boarding our coach we had some time to soak in the Andalucian beauty of the white washed village of Mijas- some of us took a donkey ride while others bartered with local traders.

With great anticipation we have looked forward to meeting the students of “El Colegio de Mijas” with whom we have established an online link. Nothing could have prepared us for the overwhelming welcome we received in the school. The students ran out to meet us and enthusiastically greeted us before taking us on a tour of their school. We had the opportunity to engage in a range of workshops with our Spanish friends and enjoyed communicating – even though a little Spanglish was employed at times!

After meeting our new Spanish friends (amigos españoles), we got on the coach and headed to enjoy our lunch. We went to McDonald’s (not very typical but an extremely poplular choice with all students) and, because the queue was so long, one member of staff had to walk down the line and take everybody’s order – but Mrs Murray and Jacqui gave us strict orders to order only in Spanish!!.  After eating our eagerly awaited lunch, we re- boarded the bus and were bound for the hotel. When we arrived, we walked to the nearby supermarket (supermercado) to buy some much needed bottles of water- the temperature was now 30 degree!!!.

Then we were told the news of one of our surprises; a Telecabina tour (cable car) from Tivoli World in Benalmádena to the summit of one of the mountains surrounding Málaga and Mijas. The panoramic scenery of the Costa del Sol came into view as the cable cars continued to go up and up and up to the summit, an altitude of 800ft. Some of the students who were not fond of heights found the experience a bit daunting, but they overcame their fears and everyone took the car to the top and we greeted the more nervous participants among us with a rapturous round of applause for overcoming their fears!!. At the top enjoyed the opportunity to visit a bird sanctuary, with owls, eagles and all manner of birds.

Then it was the beginning of the long trek down to the bottom of the mountain. Starting off at 6:10pm and arriving at the bottom about 2 hours later.  The walk was very enjoyable because we were able to walk at our own leisure and have the craic with not only our friends, but also with all of the teachers.  The sun was shining, the clouds were moving along; and we are under the great big Spanish sky.

When we reached the bottom, we boarded the bus and headed back towards the hotel.  We all thought that our day was over.  But the teachers had planned yet another surprise.  When we un-boarded the bus, we followed the teachers who led us.  We had no idea of where we were going.  Finally, when we reached the end of the short trek, through all of the narrow, traditional, cobble streets; we had arrived at our destination.

We had the honour of enjoying some Churros Con Chocolaté; which is Spanish doughnuts dipped into rich chocolate sauce.  We were privileged to get this opportunity because the local family who ran the small business are infamous for their “churros deliciosos” throughout the area.  It was amazing- a real authentic attack on the senses.

We departed for the hotel and once we returned, we had our dinner.  That was then followed with an evening of good craic.  We had a quiz organised by the brilliant Señor McMahon during which many of us won random spot prizes. Before retiring to our beds for some much needed sleep, many of us joined in on a bit of dancing with some of the other guests who were suitably impressed by Team St Paul’s!!!.

Hasta mañana


Day 1: Sunday 20 October 2013

Domingo – Vamos a España

At 10:30 this morning, we met at the school (with such buzz and excitement) and boarded the coach bound for Belfast City Airport.  We said goodbye to our tearful parents and the journey began!  The coach journey was about one hour and when we arrived at the airport, with great anticipation; we collected our suitcases from the bus.  We entered the Aer Lingus Check In service, although some people’s bags were a little overweight, but the friendly staff allowed it because we were students.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 22.56.07

At about 13:40, we boarded the aircraft.  We sat in seats beside our friends and prepared for takeoff!   At 2:00pm, ten minutes behind schedule, we took off.  The captain set the throttles to full and we were on our way!  Our flight plan took us over the east coast of Ireland and the west coast of France.  We then flew over the north coast of Spain and began our descent into Málaga.

We landed in Málaga at fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and un-boarded the aircraft.  We walked to the baggage collection point and picked up our bags without any problems.  We boarded the bus to the TRH Mijas Hotel although we took the more scenic route by the Costa Del Sól.

When we arrived at the hotel, we departed for our assigned rooms.  After, we met in el restaurante and enjoyed typical Spanish tapas food and for dessert we had homemade ice-cream (helado).  It was delicious.  We then had a meeting and discussed tomorrow’s activities.  Then, we headed for bed (la cama).  Very tired, but very happy.

Hasta mañana!

Please leave your feedback and comments below.


I am soooooooo jealous. Have a lovely time

by Ann O'Hare on 20/10/2013 at 11:16 pm #

Great to hear from you all! Have a brilliant time and take
care! It’s lashing here… Bainígí sult as

by Stephen Quinn on 20/10/2013 at 11:22 pm #

I am so jealous too!! Hotel looks fabulous. Have a brilliant trip. Will look forward to the blog. Hasta la Vista!

by mary mc mahon on 21/10/2013 at 7:05 am #

Be safe and have a wonderful time. It is wet and miserable outside at St Paul’s this morning. I hope you are catching the “rays” on the Costa del Sol. Enjoy your trip and learn lots of Spanish.

by Oliver Mooney on 21/10/2013 at 11:16 am #

Great to hear from you. You are not missing the heavy rain here. Enjoy it all. God bless.

by Kathleen Moore on 21/10/2013 at 11:36 am #

Still raining here so enjoy all the sunshine while it
lasts. Have a great time

by B McConville on 21/10/2013 at 9:18 pm #

Hi guys, hope you all have a good time in Spain. We all
miss you in school. Have a safe flight home. Enjoy

by Shea McSorley on 21/10/2013 at 9:22 pm #


by GRAINNE MC GUIGAN on 21/10/2013 at 11:52 pm #

missing yous!!

by Hannah Mccann on 22/10/2013 at 11:12 am #

Here’s hoping you have another terrific day in the land of sun and that you learn some more Spanish along the way. Look after your teachers, they look exhausted in the photo posted yesterday.
Enjoy it all.

by Oliver Mooney on 23/10/2013 at 10:16 am #


I am enjoying the blog and I am very jealous of the lovely weather you are having. It’s a pity you are missing the heatwave at home though :-). Shauna, Tara and Laura, 1296 is not the same without you, very quiet – I wonder why!!! The Irish store is lonely without our Spanish amigos. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Slan abhaile.

by Ciara McCoy on 23/10/2013 at 10:11 pm #

Blog sounds great. Gerard we really miss you in study!! Hope the ladies haven’t you shopping too much!!

by Christine Fearon on 23/10/2013 at 10:48 pm #

The pictures are amazing. Good job to the photographer

by Cameron Scholes on 24/10/2013 at 8:50 am #

I’m enjoying your blog so far and also really jealous of the lovely weather you are all experiencing. A big hello to everyone especially the boys and girls from 1129 and 1165! Enjoy the rest of your trip and have a safe journey back home again at the weekend. Take care.

by Kathy Branagan on 24/10/2013 at 11:28 am #

Well must say my baby had a fab time would highly recommend any child taking part in the trip cant say enough about the teachers who went with them im still doing the washing at this time but you know what they all had a great time well done to one and all
time is 1:14 am

by jackie on 27/10/2013 at 1:14 am #

Muchas gracias a toda la familia! Go raibh míle maith agaibh a mhúinteoirí go léir! Thank you very much for looking after the teenagers and giving them a wonderful and most enriching and memorable trip of a life time together.

by Méabh Ní Ghribín on 28/10/2013 at 12:27 pm #

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