Finishing up

The final concerts have been performed and farewells are being given to our local guides and bus drivers (who were amazing!) and we are cramming all of those souvenirs into our bags with hopes they don’t send it over the 23 kg weight limit. 

As always, the Variations spring break tour creates many memories for us and for those we see along the way. I hope some of the school children were sparked by the singing and other interactions with our students. I hope the students were also changed for the better as travel tends to do. Just being able to see cities and buildings that have been growing and changing for centuries is educational. Spending time with that culture and with people enriches that even more. 

I am not quite finished sharing yet as wifi didn’t cooperate and there are more images and videos to post. I will get them online as soon as I can. 

Thanks for following along and I am sure there will be plenty more stories to be shared with you from those you know on the trip. 


Your friendly neighborhood blogger (Audrey)

14,500 steps (and counting)

That is the number of steps I have taken today and it is only 4 pm!

Last night, Variations held a concert in the chapel of Hospital de la Caridad, which is an assisted living facility for men. The chapel was lovely and the acoustics fantastic. I always enjoy seeing the faces of the choir when they first sing in spaces like this because is a treat for the ears of both the choir and the audience.

Since it was a lovely location, we took our final group photo of the tour there as well.

Today, we visited the Seville Cathedral (also called Catedral de Santa María de la Sede). It is the largest gothic cathedral in the world and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


It is also the burial site for Christopher Columbus. The tomb is an impressive work with four figures (representing the four kingdoms of Aragon, Leon, Castile and Navarra) carrying Columbus’s casket on their shoulders. Visiting this tomb was an interesting closing of a Variations loop as we visited the castle in Segovia on the first Variations tour of Spain back in 2011. The castle in Segovia is where Columbus requested the funding to explore the new world. And, Seville is his final resting place.

Tomb of Columbus

The cathedral also has a very tall bell tower, called Giralda, that is the symbol of Seville. It was built in the 11th century by the Moors as part of the mosque in the town. After the “Reconquest” of Spain in 1248, the mosque was consecrated as a Cathedral. Fortunately for us, part of our tour included climbing the 37 inclines (they used to be stairs – whew!) to the top which houses 24 large bells and provides wonderful view of the city.

After the tour and a quick lunch, we walked to Colegio de San Francisco de Paula for our last concert of the tour. The school audience gave the group much applause and, like the other school audiences, seemed to most enjoy the perennial favorites on the program this year: the contemporary a cappella and the spirituals.

Now, we are are working on repacking those suitcases and making final souvenir purchases before our VERY early ride to the airport tomorrow morning.


Slideshow from Malaga

The wifi, ironically  in the largest city we are visiting, has not been cooperative so I don’t think I will get much (if any) video posted. Here are some photos I finally got uploaded but the slideshow function is not working.

I hope this link will work for you, though. More coming as soon as I can.


On the road again

This morning, we loaded up the bus and headed to the southern coast of Spain. We spend a little bit of the morning by the sea in a the town of Malaga. The ocean was very rough from storms yesterday but still very lovely to be at the beach. The sun even came out more to help with the day but it was still rather hazy from the humidity. After visiting the seaside a bit, we loaded up again to head to our next destination.

But, on the way, we stopped at Sunny View School for two concerts – one for the primary students and one for the secondary students. Both concerts were well attended and well received. The primary students even serenaded Variations with their own selections including four numbers from “The Sound of Music” which was a wonderful experience for everyone. The students really enjoyed the beatboxing by two of our students as part of the Pentatonic number. Both audiences demanded encores of beatboxing and in concert, Matt was able to explain how to get started learning how to beatbox. After the concerts, the Sunny View students bombarded Variations for autographs and photos.  And, one student said to me as she was leaving the auditorium: “They are the BEST choir in the world!”

It was a fun way to end the performances.

After the concerts, we headed out and have a three concert day tomorrow so we hope everyone is getting some rest tonight!


Another day in Granada

Variations had another school concert today in Granada. This time, we went to  Centro Juan XXIII, which is another school in Granada with a similar history to yesterday’s school. It was started as a mission school in a poorer section of the town. We were greeting warmly by the school headmaster and then taken to a lovely reception while we waited for the performance time. Several teachers came by to say hello and some even were finished with their work of the day and were staying around to hear Variations perform.

platter of pasties
Not my hand!


Then, Variations took the stage. They had a great performance, interacting with the audience and demonstrating the different sections (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) with one of their songs. After finishing all of the encores, the students took their seats and were treated to performances by three students at the school. One danced classical ballet and the other two performed flamenco dancing for us. It was fantastic and enjoyed by all.

female flamenco dancer on stage

After the concert, the students talked and took selfies with the Spanish students before loading the bus and heading back into downtown Granada.

Back there, we all went to the Granada Cathedral to take the tour inside. This cathedral was built after the southern of Spain was taken back from the Moors and Catholicism was brought back to the region. It is also where  Isabel and Ferdinand are buried as they moved here to live in the Alhambra after the Moors were defeated. The cathedral is a magnificent work with many smaller chapels and works of art all throughout it.

After the tour, we had some free time to find local food and shop for souvenirs…and pack our bags as we leave early tomorrow morning for our next adventure.

So, we will be saying adios again. This time to Granada.