Here we all are in The City hall in Barcelona
Wednesday 13 March 2012
We left Ireland on Wednesday and we arrived in Barcelona airport, the plane trip was a bit annoying as there was a woman sitting behind us who would never stop talking. Even Bn. Uí Cheallaigh had to laugh. There was bad fog at Barcelona airport, but we arrived nevertheless and there we happened to meet a famous rugby player called Lifemi Mafi. We were collected by Luis, the Spanish coordinator and were brought to the hostel where we stayed for the night. We went out to a little local bar and had a pizza together; it was out first experience of ‘real’ Barcelona.
On Thursday we went to Barcelona zoo which was very enjoyable, and we did a bit of wandering around Barcelona city. Later that day we visited the Picasso museum. It was full of Picasso’s paintings and other art works. It is in the heart of the old city. What an interesting place that is! On the train out to Vilassar we could see the plam trees and the Meditarranean sea. We met our hosts later that day and settled down for the night.
On Friday we visited the Barcelona town hall. It was full of beautiful paintings and marble. We were told the history of the hall. We moved on to the Segrada Familia, a famous cathedral very well known in Barcelona. They began building it in 1882 and hope to have it finished by 2016 which is the 100th anniversary of Gaudi who was the original architect. It was an amazing structure and I was fascinated by it, but we had to rush out of it. We had our packed lunch and had time to look at the old city again. The Roman ruins were very interesting and the big open squares.
On Saturday we took a coach to Monserrat Abbey an abbey high up in the mountains. When we arrived we went straight to the café for some refreshments. Then we went to admire the amazing view.
A tour guide showed us around the abbey and the museum and explained how the King of Spain gave the land to the monks. We saw the statue of the Black Virgin. There are many legends about statues of Black Virgins from early medieval Europe. Apparently it wasn’t that they were black in skin colour but that the paint used to decorate them became discoloured and turned black. We were given two hours of free time and we climbed to the top of the mountain. It was a tough climb but we made it. The place was full of pilgrims, Spaniards and foreigners. I was interested to see them queueing up for hours to touch the statue of the Virgin. We were tired after our adventures but after going home and relaxing for a while, we played football and basketball in the school’s playing grounds which was fun.
It was an interesting and enjoyable day.
On Sunday we went to the beach. I thought this was the best day of the trip; no long walks and no Metro! We played rugby, football and we went swimming. Luckily the weather was fine and all the students were together. We went home for dinner and we went bowling later in the day. The bowling was great fun.
On Monday we visited the school in Vilissar de Mar. We attended some classes in the morning. We had a good laugh trying to learn Catalan. The presentation was held and we watched the DVDs we had made. I had put a lot of work into our film about the Irish language in the Déise today. I was proud of my work. Lunch had been prepared for us. I really enjoyed that because it was the only time we were all together. We took a group photo and we headed into Barcelona for some shopping. This was our last day.
I thoroughly enjoyed this exchange. It’s hard to say what the highlight was. I had no idea at the start how different it would be to an ordinary holiday. Not only did I meet the Catalan people but also the Bulgarians and the Norwegians. It was quite an experience when we all tried to talk to each other. We Irish had an advantage because we all speak English fluently. I was surprised at how well some of the other students’ English was. I don’t think my Spanish would match up to their English!
I have been in Barcelona before staying with good friends but this experience was completely different. I had to mix with complete strangers and muster up all the social skills I had to find a place in the group. Some other people were shy and their English wasn’t good, so we all had to make a big effort. The trip has certainly got me interested in travelling to other places in Europe and learning about other cultures.