What a few days it's been in Cádiz as the first group excursions of the course got underway! Saturday took the group to the nearby coastal town of Bolonia. Bolonia is famously home to Baelo Claudia, one of Spain's best-preserved Roman cities, with everything from its fisheries and forum to its amphitheatre still very much in evidence today. Students enjoyed exploring the ruins and learning about the history of the Roman civilisation in Andalucía.
Soon it was time to head down to the beach for a spot of much needed r&r, and the slightly cloudier and windier conditions didn't deter our group from going for a swim! The late afternoon took us to Vejer de la Frontera, a beautiful Moorish town of white adobe buildings set high in the Andalusian hills. We learned about the contribution of the Arabic-speaking world to Spain's language, culture and architecture while wandering the narrow alleyways. We visited the remains of Moorish battlements and saw how the clash of Christian and Islamic cultures had left a marked imprint on the landscape in the form of churches and castles.
On Sunday we crossed the border between Spain and the United Kingdom by heading down to Gibraltar. The Gibraltarian streets eerily resemble any major UK city, though with much better weather! We had fun taking the cable car up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, where students came face to face with the local population of barbary apes and learned first-hand how adept they are at snatching food!
There was plenty of opportunity for photos across the many trails and walks of the nature reserve. We even stopped to learn about the history of Gibraltar as a disputed territory, as well as its significance in the Allied effort in the Second World War. One of the highlights was exploring the age-old limestone caves inside the Rock, once said to have been a subterranean route to the African mainland.
The trip concluded with a hike down the Rock and back into town, where students enjoyed some free time exploring a much warmer version of the typical British high street. Then it was time to cross the border back into Spain with passports in hand, ready for another exciting week in Cádiz.
Paul Hyland recently graduated with a PhD in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Cambridge. He also holds a first class degree in Spanish and German, as well as an MPhil in European Literature from the same institution.