The journey to Dublin passed in a flash and we were soon checking in at Bewley’s Hotel for our one night stay. The hotel was really modern and had three giant, glass elevators. Our room was lovely and had a great view of the city. I didn’t really sleep… I was just so excited!
Three hours later, we were on our way to Dublin Airport. Our flight was at 6.20am and we arrived in Madrid at 9.55am. The sun was shining and it was really warm! We were all exhausted but still really looking forward to our first day in Spain.
After checking in at Hotel Mediodia, we went for lunch in a really cool train station, which was just across the road from our hotel. Tropical trees and plants ran down the whole length of the station. There was a pond with little turtles in it and birds flew freely above our heads. It seemed strange to be in a train station and a rainforest at the same time. Ordering lunch was our first opportunity on the trip to use Spanish and it was quite funny watching everyone struggle to utter a word. Most of us just pointed to the menu and said, “¡gracias!”
After lunch, we got back on a coach to go to Santiago Bernabéu (the Real Madrid Stadium). On arrival, we spotted a limousine and media vans. Instantly, the atmosphere soared at the thought of catching a glimpse of one of the famous players. Everyone kept a watchful eye throughout the tour, but sadly, none of us got to meet any celebrities.
The stadium was so much bigger than what I had imagined, and the trophy room seemed to be an endless corridor of triumph. (I’m pretty sure that some of the trophies were taller than Liam!)
After the stadium tour, we went on a sight-seeing tour of Madrid. We saw lots of different majestic buildings and monuments. We stopped at an ancient Egyptian Temple, which had been transported to Spain as a gift from Egypt. It was like being in two different countries at the same time! There were also some beautiful views of the city from this lookout point.
The tour ended at FrescCo Restaurant, where we had dinner. You could eat as much as you wanted at this buffet-style café. Afterwards, we made our way back to the hotel to get an early night so that we’d all be refreshed and wide awake the next morning.
On Saturday, we woke up bright and early. Everyone went for breakfast and by 9.00am, we were all on a coach, ready to go to Segovia. Segovia is a very pretty little town and many tourists go there from around the world. One of the main attractions is the aqueduct, which was built in Roman times to transport water. There were also lots of shops and restaurants along the cobblestoned streets. We were allowed to go off to explore and practise our Spanish around the town.
One of the cafés sold chocolate and churros, a favourite Spanish dish, so we thought we’d give it a try. The hot chocolate was really thick and rich, (but I really liked it!) and the churros were little deep- fried sugary heavens!
We continued to browse the shops throughout the morning and most of us bought our souvenirs. At lunchtime, we went to a little restaurant specialising in Spanish food, where Caitlin and Catherine had chicken paella. It looked really nice (and we all felt properly Spanish!)
When everyone met up again at 4.00pm, some of the fifth year boys were wearing giant, colourful sombreros! It was really funny and everyone in the square was laughing too.
Our coach took us back to Madrid where we went to a park before dinner. It was definitely the biggest park I’ve ever been to. There were lots of pretty fountains, flowers and statues. Some of us even got the chance to go rowing across one of the large lakes. There were musicians, artists and street performers everywhere and the atmosphere was great.
After dinner, we went to ‘la plaza mayor’ where there was music, street performers and lots of little cafés and shops. It’s one of the busiest squares in Madrid and it really comes to life at night. I learnt loads about Spanish culture and it was a great experience.
Sunday was Warner Bros. day!!
The theme park was enormous and there was lots to do. The park was split into different areas for different age-groups. We headed straight for one of the biggest, scariest-looking rollercoasters in the park. However, it was only when we were near the front of the queue that I decided to look at the picture on our map. I started to freak out when I saw upside down loops and vertical drops, but it was too late to turn back…
So we took our seats and held on tight as the rollercoaster took off. It wasn’t too bad to start with, as we were just climbing a hill. But then came the drop-
I literally kept my eyes squeezed shut the whole ride as we were flung upside down and round and round. Other people were shouting and screaming but I didn’t make a sound. I was so thankful when we came to a stop and were allowed off. As everyone else’s bars and straps were released, ours stayed put and wouldn’t budge. We were stuck.
I managed to slip out under the bar but Catherine, Eimear and Claire were trapped! The ride was just about to take off again as I desperately tried to explain to the Spanish guy at the controls that my friends couldn’t get off. He started to laugh and helped us release the bar. We all stumbled away, laughing uncontrollably at the thought of having to stay on the ride as it went round and round for the rest of the day. It was definitely one of the funniest parts of the entire trip!
The day continued and we went on a few more rides (one of which Catherine and Eimear got stuck on… again!). We headed towards the water rides near the end of the day and got absolutely soaked. I’ve never had so much fun in my whole life!
After dinner, we went to a little square behind our hotel, where we spent our last night chatting and relaxing after a busy day at ‘Parque Warner.’
On our last day in Spain, we went to a little town called Toledo, which is just outside Madrid. It’s really picturesque and old-fashioned (but it still had a McDonalds)! There were lots of different shops and cafés along the streets and we spent our day looking around and practising our Spanish.
One of my favourite shops was a traditional sweet shop which sold every kind of sweet, biscuit and cake that you could ever imagine! (They handed out loads of free samples too). Throughout the day, we got a chance to see some old castles and beautiful views.
We got back on a coach at about 4.00pm and headed straight to the airport. It was sad to think that the trip had come to an end and we were all going home.
Our flight departed Madrid at 8.35pm and we arrived in Dublin at 10.10pm. It was cold, wet and miserable; nothing like sunny Spain. We got on our coach and arrived in Larne at about 1.00am. I was really tired and had had an absolutely fantastic time, but I was glad to be home.It was an amazing experience and I will never forget my time in Spain.