Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cormac Mac Murchadha. My trip to Spain.

Here we all are in The City hall in Barcelona

Cormac Mac Murchadha. My trip to Spain.
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.

Neil and Comenius in Spain

We left on Wednesday afternoon, 13 March,  from a foggy and misty Ireland. We took the plane from Cork and flew to Barcelona. Unfortunately the supposedly two hour flight ended up taking around four hours! We were delayed in both Cork and Barcelona due to fog and poor visibility. When we did land I noticed that a famous rugby player was on our plane so I went up to him and we had a lovely chat. This started our trip off on a high. Luis and some of the students picked us up from the airport and we headed into Barcelona city to our hostel.
The next day we were on our own because we had arrived a day before the other schools. Cherene, Tadhg, Cormac, Gráinne our teacher and I all headed straight for Barcelona zoo. We loved seeing all the different animals and the weather wasn’t too bad either. Then we headed up to the Picasso museum where we got to see all of Picasso’s art in a timeline view. For the end of the day we headed off for some free time shopping on La Ramblas. Unfortunately we ended up forgetting the time so after a quick run back to the hostel we were ready to go and meet our Spanish family.

My host was Guille. His dad was called Carlos and his mum Cris. But most importantly his dog was called Nika. The nicest thing about arriving was that the second I stepped inside I was welcomed with a hug and told instantly that “This is your Spanish family. Make yourself at home.....mi casa, su casa.” That night we had Spanish omelette and bread rubbed with tomato and olive oil.  It was delicious! I went asleep looking forward to getting to know the students from Bulgaria and Norway the next morning.
On Friday, Guille had to go to school but I joined all the other students on the project and went into Barcelona where we visited the Sagrada Familia, the city hall and the old Roman City. It was quite cold but I had my shorts on so I felt as if I was really on my holidays. We also had lots of free time to hang around and relax. When we arrived back to Vilassar de Mar we all met up with each other and got introduced to some of the other locals too! Vilassar is a lovely seaside town about 30 miles from Barcelona. The Mediterranean ocean stretches all along its promenade with palm trees and beautiful bright sand. It’s nearly as beautiful as An Rinn!!
Saturday was an early rise as we were taking a bus trip up to Montserrat Abbey. It took around an hour or so to get there but it was really worth it. The only word for the views up there is spectacular! We were given about three or four hours free time up there so we decided to climb up the famous steps to get to the top of the mountain and see the amazing rocks and views. It took over an hour to go up but we didn’t make it all the way as we didn’t have enough time. We then ran down and took some pictures of the group and of the town. That evening we all went out to a local burger restaurant for dinner and to get to know some more of the friendly locals.
Sunday was our free day to spend with our hosts. Luckily it was fine day so we all went to the beach and rested. For many of us visitors, this was the highlight of the trip because we went swimming in the beach. We even managed to get the Spanish to get in to the water (even though it was only for a second). We’re used to swimming in the freezing waters of the Atlantic so we thought the water was warm! Then Tadhg, Alex, Marc, Milena, Ilona and Sergi came over to Guille’s house and we all made lunch for ourselves and listened to music and took a well deserved break after the walking that had been done the past few days. We had to go everywhere in the metro and seemed to spend all our time rushing up and down steps or from one place to the other. Here some of us experienced some of the traditional Catalan foods such as omelette and a salad with tuna, olives, tomatoes and lettuce.
Later on Sunday all met up to go bowling at Vilassar de Mar train station. We hopped off and went to the shopping centre to play bowling. Most of the Irish seemed to get bowled out of it, especially me. I was not good at bowling! I lost the challenge against Marc. We then bought our dinner in the shopping centre before heading back to Vilassar and socialising with the locals and our Norwegian and Bulgarian friends.
Monday was in a way a sad day. We all knew it had been coming but that didn’t make it easier; it was our last full day together. We went to the school in Vilassarand took part in some of the classes.
At one point Ralitsa, Maria, Emma and I were all asked out to the front of the school to be interviewed for the local TV station. We were then treated to a Catalan feast in the school kitchen. It was amazing. Most of the food I’d never even heard of. There was of course food like Paella and Omelette and Spanish sausages too. We were all stuffed! Time for the final group photo then! We all crowded out onto the steps in front of the school and had our pictures taken. We then all made our way in to Barcelona once more, up and down and in and out in the Metro. We were given some free time in the city to do any final shopping and just have fun. And fun we had. Ilona, Sergi, Guille, Andrea, Julia, Helena and I all headed straight to Starbucks to wake Guille up. In the middle of this we had a solid five minutes laughing about nothing! Most of us started crying with laughter. We even have photos to prove it! After this we went and got our final shopping bits. Then it was back to Vilassar one last time. Welcomed instantly as I walked in the door by Nika, myself and Guille sat down took a few photos and discussed the amazing trip we had. Then it was out once more to meet up with our friend and enjoy our last night in Cataluña. We sang the night away with songs from all over the world, from the Barcelona song to “Chuaigh a dá Sheán” and “Amhrán na bhFiann”. After taking the final photos we headed off home to our Spanish families to get some rest for our busy day of travelling the next day.
We had to say goodbye to some of the students in Vilassar train station Tuesday morning. It was a very sad time. We then headed into the airport where we said our final goodbyes before hopping on the plane back to the Emerald Isle. Leaving the sun was a bit of a shock when we landed to rain in Dublin but the thing I’m going to miss the most from Spain is the friends we made. This really was the most enjoyable trip ever. Thank you everyone who helped out but especially to the friends I made and of course my Spanish family; Carlos, Cris, Guille and Nika. I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Our journey to Spain. Tadhg Ó Cuirrín

I first became involved in the Comenius when the Bulgaria, Spanish and Norwegian schools visited our school in Ireland last October. I helped to host them and I enjoyed the experience of meeting new people and learning about their different ways of life so much that I began working on the project. I am studying Spanish in school so I was excited that I would have an opportunity to go to Catalonia and see how people live there.

We set off for Spain on the 13 march. On our arrival in Barcelona we went straight to our hostel where we spent the night.
On Thursday we went to the Barcelona Zoo had dinner in Barcelona visited the Picasso museum a very enjoyable day. When we first met our friends in Spain we were a little shy but when we had spent sometime with them we soon began to form a friendship with these people which will last a lifetime. On Thursday night we got to our Spanish friends house where we stay for the rest of our trip. We learnt about how our friends in Spain lived we saw the area they lived and had the chance to experience there language .
On our first day with or friends from Spain Bulgaria and Norway we began early our first stop was the town hall we had a guided tour of the town hall where we saw a lot of art work and the wonderful architecture f the building also the history behind it. After this we walked to the Sagrada  Familia a cathedral designed and worked on by a famous architect named Gaudi , we learned that the work on this amazing cathedral began back in the 1800s and is still being worked on today and work is expected to continue until around 2026. After our tour of the cathedral we had our lunch in Barcelona and later on that evening we paid a visit to the old town of Barcelona were a Spanish teacher gave us a guided tour and a little history on the area. We then separated from teachers and spent the night with all our new friends.
Saturday we went on trip to the monastery sat on top of a mountain named Monzerat. We had a tour and learnt history of the area and also had a tour of the museum which had paintings from lots of famous artists such as Picasso in it. During our break we climbed to peak of the mountain over 1000 steps an amazing experience to share with our friends. It was great fun.That night we had dinner with our friends and spent the evening together.
 On Sunday we had a free day to spend with friends we all met together at the beach and spent most of the day there playing sport and a little swimming, enjoying the heat.  Here’s a photo to prove we were there!
After the beach we went home for our dinner and later met together that evening and went bowling for the night altogether a very good day spent with friends.
Monday we visited our Spanish friends school a very big school where we got to sit in a class with our Spanish friend and also have a class learning Catalan. Later we gave our presentations in the library and received or cert for Comenius. That evening we had some free time for food and shopping in Barcelona city. We then spent our final night laughing and having fun with our friends.
Tuesday we were up early we made the journey to the airport and said a very sad goodbye to our friends who we will always miss.
Altogether the journey was an amazing experience we learnt so much from all our friends in Bulgaria,  Norway and especially in Spain , We had the opportunity to stay with there families who made us so welcome and looked after us so well through our stay. I had never been away on my own before so I was a little nervous at first.  It’s a journey I will never forget and I have made friends I will never forget. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and learnt so much and met so many people.
 I thank everyone who took part in the project for making it such an amazing experience.

Cherene in Barcelona!

Cherene Ní Fhoghlú
My Trip to Barcelona.
Wednesday 14th March:
We arrived in Barcelona late at night after an alarming flight; the flight was unable to land because of fog and we were running out of fuel! To our surprise we had a star amongst us on the plane, Munster rugby player Lifeimi Mafi. Neil recognised him and we were lucky enough to get the chance to speak with him. He is a wonderful gentleman. We were then driven to our hostel by taxi  and ate at a near by pizzeria. It was a small local sort of bar. we had our first chance to try out a bit of Spanish because the man serving spoke no English. He told us he didn’t speak any Catalan and that was interesting too. Seeing as it was late we called it a night and went back to our little hostel.

Thursday 15th:
Barcelona is such an exciting city. Since we had arrived one day earlier than the other teams one of our teachers, Gráinne Ní Chuirrín was kind enough to bring us to the zoo and Picasso museum to pass the day. Bn. Uí Cheallaigh escaped to drink hot chocolate an churros! First we visited the zoo, it was amazing. I love animals! Later, we visited the Picasso museum ; although I had don't do art as a school subject nor have much interest in art, I still found the museum fantastic. There was such a different range of artistic products all stemming from one man. Afterwards we explored the city until the evening. Some of the students arrived at our hostel at tea time to take us  to the metro to Vilassar De Mar. we were up and down stairs in the crowded Metro; I was afraid I would get lost because I am small and I could hardly keep up!  When we finally go to Vilassar, we were met  by our host students and whisked away from our teachers without as much as goodbye.  Before bed we were shown around the town and even went to see a soccer practice. They were much more skillful than Irish lads; I wonder how they’ll do in the European cup.

Friday 16th:
This was the day my feet hurt so much. The weather was dry but there was a very cold wind. We visited the town hall which is set on one of the lovely Spanish squares. Then we walked the city to get to La Segrada Familia. This building is  beautiful, it has so many artistic features to it and all the construction makes it even more interesting. Unfortunately we waited outside for ages and when we got in we were rushing and didn’t have time to appreciate the beauty of the place. Then we walked for a long time again back to the old city.We then got a guided tour there from Rosanna. We spent a lot of time walking or waiting (nearly 40 minutes sitting in the cold at one point). I was glad to get back to Vilassar.

Saturday 17th:
We were up early to visit Monserrat Abbey. The views up there aremagnificent. I can't put words to express how much I loved it! We were given a guided tour but it was very rushed. There were some beautiful paintings in the museum but were were practically running past them! Then we had free time. Most of the students used that free time to climb the 1000 steps to the top of the mountain. I think the teachers might have been lazy and gone to the coffee shop! The weather was glorious and the views were stunning. I would love to live there. We spoke to some of the other tourists and that was interesting. They were mostly Spanish but there were some foreigners. Afterwards we got the bus back to Vilassar and we played some soccer and just hung out for the night.

Sunday 18th:
This was the day we had free from teachers. My hosts were really kind. The food in the house was typical Catalan food. I liked most of it but some of it was heavy and I found it hard to digest. Luckily the day was very fine, maybe the best day of our stay. We decided there was no better way to spend the day then on the beach . All the other students were there too. In the evening we went and played bowling. Then home to bed as we had an early start the next morning.

Monday 19th:
I had to get up at 7.00a.m. to be ready for school. The students in Spain are  lucky that they don’t have to wear a uniform. We had a class of Catalan and Spanish  and we accompanied our hosts to their scheduled class. I had the pleasure of going to technical drawing. It was fun to see Jaumé so serious at his schoolwork!  We then went to a little hall where the presentations were made. The teachers spoke and the principal thanked us all for our efforts. We watched each other’s video presentations about the theme on Minority Languages and Cultures. I think our’s was the best...of course!  The only live presentation was a beautiful dance by Milena from Bulgaria. It represented a welcome and featured the beautiful roses that symbolise the town of Kazanlak.  The school had a beautiful tapas  lunch set out for us in their cafeteria. It was lovely because it was the only opportunity we all had, all the students and the teachers, to socialise together. We then set off up and down on the Metro again  to Barcelona shopping.

My overall experience in Spain was fantastic. I got to learn a little Catalan and to understand how ordinary people there think. I would most definitely love to visit again sometime, especially to visit my host family ( Jaumé) who were so nice and made me feel very welcome. I'm very grateful to have had the pleasure of making lots of new friends. I  also got to practice my Spanish and have learned history and culture in Spain. It was a very different experience to being on a package holiday. Comenius gave me a great opportunity and I’m grateful to everyone who was involved in making it happen.

Cherene Ní Fhoghlú

Below, the view in Monserrat under the Catalonian sun

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Trip to Spain – By Kristiyana

On March 15th we arrived at Sofia Airport and took the flight at around 7 in the morning. We arrived at Rome and had around 5-6 hours to spend till the next flight. During those hours we managed to explore the capital of Italy and see some of it’s magnificent ancient architecture such as the Colosseum, Trajan's Column and many more. After that we took the next flight and soon after we arrived at Barcelona Airport. Our host were waiting for us there. We took the underground to Vilassar de Mar – the small seaside town we were staying at and after we arrived our hosts took us to their homes.
On the next day, we spent all of our time in Barcelona. We managed to see the La Rambla Street, Barcelona Town Halls and the amazing Sagrada Familia. It was simply amazing. In the afternoon we explored the Roman part of Barcelona and learned some interesting facts about it. We went back to Vilassar de Mar and we spent the rest of our free time with the other students.
On the next day we took the bus to the Montserrat area and visited the monastery there. We found out that this place is of great value to the catalan language and culture. The monastery was very beautiful and we had the opportunity to touch the statue of the Black Virgin that is located inside. We visited the museum as well and after all this great experience we got back to Vilassar de Mar and spend our remaining time with the other groups, playing football or just talking.
The next day was free so we spent our time on the seaside, playing games and at noon we played bowling with our new friends in a town next to Vilassar.
On the next day we visited the school. We took part in one of their technical drawing classes. After that we all saw a presentation about the differences between the Spanish and the Catalan language, we watched the movies about the minority languages that each group had to present and we received certificates. Then we spend the rest of the day in Barcelona sightseeing and shopping. We even managed to visit an exhibition of the famous artist Goya.
On the final day, we left from Vilassar de Mar Station early in the morning so we could take the plane back to Rome and then Sofia.
I’m really happy I took part of this whole project. The trip was truly amazing and a really great experience too.  My host Julia and her whole family were very hospitable and warm people. I’m glad I was their guest and I thank them for everything. Spain is a lovely place and I would like to visit it again soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trip to Catalonia - Milena

It has all started early in the morning when we caught the plane from Terminal 2 to Barcelona. As long as I realized we were in the sky on the way to Barcelona we turned a side in Italy.When we arrived in Italy we had a stay around 6-7 hours to the next flight.We all decided to go for a walk around the most attractive sights of Rome. We visited the Coliseum and the time passed unnoticeably and here we go again : in the plane on the way to Barcelona. After 2 hours and in front of us were our friends from the project “Comenius”. Each of us was ensconced in family, During these days in Catalonia  I stayed at Mark’s place. The first day was rather exhausting ,but pleasant and unforgettable . At 20:30 local time I was already with my Spanish family.Mark’s family made me feel myself as If I were at home. The following days we were everyday in Barcelona visiting different places.On 16.03 we visited the Spanish municipality which is such an interesting  and incredible place. It looks like as if it is a museum with that much pictorial and such remarkable capitels and ornaments on the doors and the columns. The same day we visited and   „ La Sagrada Familia  the cathedral of the famous architect Antonio Gaudi.The building is so remarkable that  as I stood in front of it I felt dazed by these sculptures surrounding everything  around this great project , which speaks with eloquence  for the artist’s  reflection, for his soul and heart.After visiting the great project of Antonio Gaudi  ,lead by Roxana we had the opportunity to go for a walk around the Roman part of Barcelona.We returned to Vilassar De Mar at the evening tired and happy from one interesting and unforgettable  day .

      17.03 was the day that we visited another  great place – the monastery “Montserrat”  which in the area of Catalonia . This place is one of the most famous in whole Catalonia and it eternalizes  the visions of  Virgin Mary.In the monastery are preserved  precious exhibits  of  quite religious masterpieces. I had the honor  to touch the statue of The Black Maiden  which is there. After this we came back and played football  on one of the town’s arcade.
     We had  2 more days left.On Sunday our day was free and we decided to go on the beach and to  swamp ourselves  in the water of  Mediterranean sea.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Great Trip To Vilasar de Mar

By Ilona from Bulgarian art school
On Thursday morning, at 6 am, our group gathered together at the Airport of Sofia, Terminal 2. We checked-in and later boarded the plane.

At  lunchtime we landed at  the airport in Rome and had a 6-hour stay. During the stay there we had a short tour around Rome. After that we took off for Barcelona. There we met a part of the Spanish group which took us to Vilasar de Mar, where the others waited for us. Then we all were taken to our Spanish friends’ houses. After dinner we went to La placa (coffee place). On the next day we went for a walk in Barcelona. There they showed us the pedestrian street -La Ramblas, Barcelona's city hall, the church Sagrada Familia'' and where has been a bull fighting. In Sagrada Familia we made a great walk with a guide. After our free time they showed us Catalan buildings in Barcelona and their history. At eight o’clock  in the evening we got back in 'Vilasar de Mar,'' first we  had dinner and then we got out with the group. 

On Saturday morning we went by bus to a famous mountain -,,''Montserrat. After two hours we arrived there. We were told the history of this mountain .We had free time in which we decided to climb to the top of 'Montserrat''. Then at four  we had to catch the bus . When we arrived some of us played football, others have gone back because they were tired. At eight in the evening we had to be in some establishment where we had dinner. Later all we met again in 'La Plaza''.

On Sunday we went to the beach where we played games and some of us even swam . In the afternoon we played bowling in another city. We dined there and came back in Vilasar de Mar. 

On Monday we went to school with the Spanish students, then  to Barcelona where we had time for shopping. We went back in  Vilasar de Mar where we had dinner with Sergi’s family and after that went to bed.

On Tuesday we got up earlier and went to the airport.  We said goodbye  to our Spanish friends and got on the plane for Bulgaria.  At five in the afternoon we were in Bulgaria.