Trish Dunlop (parent to pupils in Forms V & III) reports on last weekend’s parents’ trip to Seville.

A group of parents and family emerged from the winter drear last weekend, ably led by the Warden, Cathy and Michael O’Shaughnessy, and burst into Summer. It seems we had all been checking the forecast anxiously, and the sun shone brightly for the Columban cohort.

We stayed at a wonderfully located hotel, always only a walk away from the best that Seville has to offer a visitor. Just as well, since most parents seemed to be brandishing state of the art step-counters and activity tracking devices which we would then compare and contrast at suitable junctures. How many flights was it up to the top of the bell tower?

It was a pleasure to meet members of the St. Columba’s wider community as we all gathered that evening, spirits were high and we embarked on a weekend of chat, laughter and learning about the joys that Andalusia had to offer.

In stunning sunshine, we walked through the winding streets of Seville as we visited the Moorish Palace and Gardens, the stunning Cathedral, up thirty-five ramps to the bell tower giving a wonderful view of the city. The sensual discovery continued relentlessly – the orange dotted trees and brightly coloured produce as we walked the streets, the wafting scents of lavender, orange blossom and jasmine, the mosaic decoration on sandy golden stone and all punctuated by delicious food and drinks (often with a distant strain of flamenco-style music). All the while the chat and laughter continued. The day was a lovely combination of guided and “free” exploration, at times coming together as a group and at other times opting to “do our own thing” which seemed to be just the right approach.

Sunday started with a robust breakfast before taking a bus ride to Cordoba. Cordoba was a true revelation – its grand history announced by the iconic “Roman Bridge” that greeted us as we disembarked. Set up to explore museums of art and history, we were again “free-ranging” on the hilly streets that sloped up away from the River Guadalquivir.

Most remarkable – in its mixed traditional styles – is the “Mosque” or “Cordoba Cathedral”. We found the visit very moving and had the benefit of a very passionate and dedicated guide. We learned about the layers and layers of Cordoba’s history which are carved into the fabric of the “mosque”, together with its continued dedication to its true purpose of sacred worship.

We returned to Seville on the bus, which gave us a much-needed opportunity to count our steps again. A quick turnaround and off out again to a lively last supper together. The Warden kept us on our toes with the tour quiz, with all teams securing excellent marks on our self-corrected answer sheets. Last late drinks at the hotel, before the reality set in: an early return to less sunny climes via Ryanair.

The beauty of Seville and Cordoba extended beyond the architecture, the sensual pleasures, and the history. Their beauty can also be found in how the cities are lived, everywhere its residents can be seen enjoying eating, shopping, strolling and spending time with each other. For a brief interlude, and thanks to the super efforts of Cathy Boobbyer, the Warden and Michael O’Shaughnessy, we parents and family members of the St. Columba’s community were part of the beating heart of Andalusia, and we are all the better for it.

Below is an album of photographs from the trip.