Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All things Sevilla

Saludos family and friends,

We arrived in Sevilla last night after a day hiking and taking photos in the Alpujarra hills just below the Sierra Nevadas. We stopped at the Playa de Granada on the way south to take our first dip in the Mediterranean Sea and soak up the sun. We ate a tapas dinner and then held a night photography session around the Cathedral de Santa Maria.
After wandering the narrow streets of the city, we headed to bed around midnight.

This morning we had a guided tour of the Cathedral and were able to contrast the views of stained glass and Gothic architecture in the daylight with the evocative evening shots of the night before. After a picnic lunch in the Parque de Maria Luisa we made our way back to our hotel to take refuge from the afternoon sun and focus on our On Assignment projects. There has been much photo editing and writing this afternoon and tonight we are headed out to explore the Triana neigborhood, 'the gypsy quarter', across the Rio Guadalquivir.

Tomorrow we're off to Cordoba to take in the Mezquita!

Hasta luego,
Ben and Megan

Photographs below are from the group's time in Granada, taken by National Geographic Expert Tino Soriano.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Una Foto

The group, with National Geographic Expert
Tino Soriano, at Cuidad de las Ciencias

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A goodbye to National Geographic Expert Tino Soriano

*This blog post was written by several students.

Yesterday was our final day with National Geographic photographer Tino Soriano. We began the morning with a delicious breakfast of toast and coffee. Tino ended his visit with a lesson about photographing architecture and amusing situations at the Parque De Las Ciencias. We photographed exhibits on poisonous animals, the human body, and Andalucian culture along with many other interesting topics.

Tino shared his last few words of wisdom and we said our goodbyes-- we will miss him! We ended the day by working on our On Assignment projects. Before bed our "Theater Group" performed a hilarious skit they prepared for us recounting many past trip events. Then it was off to our rooms for sweet dreams all around.

More pictures to come from our last days in Granada.

Hasta luego!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Hello all,

National Geographic photographer Tino Soriano has been leading us around Granada for the past few days teaching us some of the many secrets of Andalusia. We've had the privilege to visit with the dancers from a flamenco troupe and to photograph one of their rehearsals. We've climbed to the top of the Albaicin both in the morning and in the evening and we've searched through the markets for trinkets and other sundrys. Best of all, we had the chance to visit with the owner and horse trainers at the Picadero de Nuestra Senora Terrocio.

photos and details about our adventures to come . . . for now, Adios!

Ben and Megan

Monday, July 27, 2009

An update in fotos

Madrid's Palacio Real

Night photo shoot near the Atocha train station

Picasso's Guernica at the Prado Museum

Group shot in front of the Prado Museum

plaza and sky view

Gaspacho is the perfect antidote for southern Spain's heat!

Griffiti overlooking Granada's tiled rooftops

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From Madrid to Granada

Hola de Granada!

We have made the jump from Madrid to the south and all is well in the Andalusian hills. Our time in Madrid was action packed. We visited the Prado and Reina Sofia, spectacular museums with works by view the masters Goya, Velazquez, Dali, and Picasso. One evening we went out on the town for some night shooting practice around the Atocha train station.

Before we left la mancha we took a day trip to Toledo where we gained entrance to a damascene steel workshop, visited the physical setting for Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum', examined the famous mosque of Santa Maria de la Blanca-- a building whose history has seen it used as a synagogue, office building, church, and police headquarters. We also had the opportunity to visit the majestic Cathedral of Toledo and do a bit of curio shopping before heading back to Madrid for our final night where we saw a flamenco adaption of the opera Carmen. Ole!

Granada is hot. Very hot. People disappear during the heat of the afternoon until early evening. We have adjusted to this afternoon siesta schedule quite nicely! Our favorite meal in Granada so far was in a cafe in the plaza near our hostal. There was nothing better than starting our Saturday with churros y chocolate-- long thin sticks of fried dough dipped in molten cocoa. Later that day we broke into our On Assignment teams to explore the city for ideas to develop into magazine-like photo stories and articles. We plan to include some of the fruits of our labors (fotos!) in this blog soon.

Our National Geographic expert, Tino Soriano, arrives tonight. We'll write more soon to update you on our excursion to the Alhambra and other adventures. . .

Ben and Megan

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saludos desde Madrid

Buenos dias!

Yesterday we arrived in Madrid safe and sound after a smooth connection at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. We were all a little tired after a full day of traveling, but a quick bocadillo and a siesta perked everyone up enough to explore the Plaza Mayor the first evening. Then we strolled into a lively market to photograph hanging legs of jamon and fresh pescado before enjoying a welcome dinner of tapas sampling many traditional Spanish dishes. After dinner we walked down to the Palacio Real to capture the beautiful light on the southern facade as night fell over the lively city.

Today in Madrid the sun is shining down and we have just returned from a morning shooting pictures in the the Parque Retiro. There we wandered past the famous Palacio de Cristal and the Rosaleda before finding a local restaurant for lunch.

This evening we will be exploring the Museo Nacional de Arqueológico and Photo España, the International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts. Tomorrow it´s on to the Prado and the Reina Sofia!

We´ll have photos posted for you to see soon, but for now, hasta luego!

-Megan and Ben

Monday, July 20, 2009

The group has arrived

We've received word from the expedition leaders that the group has arrived in Madrid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Meet the Expedition Leaders

2009 Spain Expedition Leaders Megan McLaulin and Ben Schellpfeffer

People & Cultures

Megan McLaulin. The College of William and Mary, B.A.; Rutgers University, M.Ed. candidate. Megan graduated cum laude from William and Mary, where she majored in English Literature and minored in Spanish. She spent a summer studying at the University of Salamanca. She taught English and Spanish at two high schools in Virginia, coached girls’ volleyball and collegiate men’s crew, and served as a volunteer English as a Second Language educator for Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants. Megan spent two years living in Talavera de la Reina, Spain; she traveled to fifteen out of Spain’s seventeen autonomous communities, cycled the historic Camino de Santiago, and hiked throughout the Sierra de Gredos mountains. She was selected by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Sciences to serve as an English language conversation assistant, and collaborated with the faculty of the a primary school in Talavera de la Reina to implement a newly designed bilingual/bicultural curriculum. She is currently pursuing her master’s in Language Education at Rutgers, where she is an academic coach at the Rutger’s Learning Centers. Megan’s interests include hiking, camping, rowing, and triathlons. She is fluent in Spanish.


Ben Schellpfeffer. New York University, B.F.A.; School of Visual Arts, M.F.A. Ben is a New York-based photographer, filmmaker, and educator. He majored in Drama at N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts and earned an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, where he was an Aaron Siskind Fellow. Ben worked as a crew member for the Sea Education Association on a sailing expedition from Tahiti to Hawaii, conducting oceanographic research, making underwater videos, and shooting documentary photography. He was director/editor of The Amelia Project (, a documentary photography education program at an orphanage near Cape Town, South Africa, and spent six months in Rwanda making a feature documentary film, Terahamwe (Those Who Work Together), focusing on international development in the wake of genocide. He went on to make another film, Nje Ya Ndani (Outside of Inside), exploring the agrarian, local, nomadic and tourist cultures on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. He recently completed an eighty minute video projection to accompany an opera based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, conceived and directed by the artist Lesley Dill ( In addition to his freelance work, Ben is an adjunct professor of Film and Video production at Ramapo College in New Jersey. He has traveled widely and is proficient in Spanish. Ben’s video and photography work is available on-line at and


Welcome family and friends of National Geographic Student Expeditions participants!

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