Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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!

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