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January 18, 2005 > Mission San Jose Band Goes to Spain

Mission San Jose Band Goes to Spain

A personal diary

by Nitasha Sharma

The Mission San Jose High School band and orchestra went to Spain over the winter holidays and performed at various venues. The trip was amazing, and the groups were extremely well received. This article is a firsthand chronicle of the adventures of the approximately 100 students who traveled to Spain.

Tuesday, Dec. 28
Today was amazing. After consuming our delicious Spanish breakfast, we proceeded on a beautiful bus tour of Spain's capital, Madrid. We ventured out along the Plaza de Espana and Gran Via, and visited the Puerta del Sol and the Puerta de Alcala. The Royal Palace was our next stop. This gigantic architectural masterpiece has literally thousands of rooms and occupies about 135,000 square meters. Its immaculate interior design awestruck the entire group. The group was let free to roam the streets of Madrid in search of lunch. This time was our first introduction to Spanish life, and we enjoyed every last bite of it. In the evening, we were driven to the Tres Cantos Arts Centre for our first concert. The performance, attended by the Madrid City Council, was flawless. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant, an interesting choice for our first night in Spain, and quickly went to bed.

Wednesday, Dec. 29
Toledo was our destination today. We spent the entire day ogling the arts and cultures of the great city. Excitement spread over the entire assembly as we watched the ancient art of sword making demonstrated by a skilled artisan who worked at the Damasquinado factory. After spending a lot of time, and money, in the factory's gift shop, we proceeded to the Christian quarter of the city. Shortly thereafter, we toured Toledo's Jewish and Muslim quarters. Amazingly, the three religions were once peacefully united in the ancient city. We returned to Madrid to get ready for a marching performance at the Plaza Colon, a plaza honoring Christopher Columbus. A tapas dinner was accompanied by a magnificent Flamenco Show at Las Caboneras.

Thursday, Dec. 30
Today was relatively relaxing and uneventful. One interesting tidbit is that the road from Madrid to Barcelona is littered with enormous cutouts of bulls. We arrived in Barcelona, where we will spend the rest of our trip, after a short stop in the city of Zaragoza. The hotel is amazing, as is the cityscape at night.

Friday, Dec 31
The Picasso Museum was, by far, the best part of today's sightseeing. I saw the most beautiful and insightful paintings I have ever seen in my life. Picasso was a marvelous artist, and the legacy he left behind is awe inspiring. We gave another marvelous performance during our march from the Plaza Catalunya to La Rambla. It was mostly fun because put on our own parade. The people were in the Plaza and the adjoining streets because it was New Year's Eve, and we marched through, the only group doing so, as though we were a part of the festivities. Before going to a local hall for our party, we enjoyed a miraculous water show in front of the palace in Barcelona. Our party was slightly less remarkable as someone forgot the grapes, bells, and music (it is traditional in Spain to eat 12 grapes and ring a bell 12 times at midnight on New Year's Eve). We did, however, settle for 12 peanuts and a bit of sleep.

Saturday, Jan 1
Montserrat was the place of the day. Much to my unease, we drove up a precariously steep mountain in an overly enormous bus to the high altitude monastery dedicated to the Black Madonna, the region's patron saint. Upon returning from Montserrat, we had free time until dinner, which was authentic and quite Spanish.

Sunday, Jan 2
Today was our last day in Spain. We spent the day looking at the modern architecture of famous architects such as Antonio Gaudi. The impressive architecture was followed by a trip to the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, the Olympic Port, and the Olympic Stadium. Later at the Pueblo Espanol, an area that mimics a plethora of different architectural styles form all over Spain, we gave an outdoor concert. Besides the lack of music stands and the freezing temperatures, the concert was flawless. The best part was at the end when the band and orchestra dispersed to go on a twenty-minute shopping spree before returning to the hotel.

Our trip to Spain was a great learning experience. The band and orchestra performed extremely well, and we all got a healthy dose of a foreign culture. Feliz dos mil cinco (Happy 2005)!

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