Barcelona Group Trip

By Kathleen Schneider- High school Group Leader in Barcelona
The first week of classes ended today. The kids are looking forward to the weekend.
Yesterday we had a really good day. Everyone seemed to be feeling relaxed and comfortably into their routine.
We had lunch at school and them headed out for an afternoon feildtrip to Montjuic. This is a large hill right on the water that looks down on Barcelona and the port. There is an old castle up there and it is also where the Olympic stadiums and buildings were put up before the 1992 Olympics. There were a lot of wonderful views of the city, we got to go into the soccer stadium, walk around a bit and then, because all the kids were clambering to do so, we took the Periféric back down. I guess we would call it a cable car in English.
Today, after class, the kids had a free afternoon and all wanted to spend the afternoon at the beach before heading home for dinner. Sandra and I offered the Chocolate and Picasso museum, but the Mediterranean beckoned. I feel that as long as they´re together, they´ll be fine. It doesn´t get dark until they all need to be home for dinner and no one has given me reason to worry.
Last night after our feildtrip, the Spanish soccer team was playing Russia in the EuroCopa. (European Cup) It was the first time that they made it in 40 years and Raul suggested to the kids that they go out to a cafe to watch it because the locals would be nuts. A number or them called home and told their families they would be home late, but before 11:00, and would have a bite out. Some kids were able to get home and eat quickly, I think. They picked a spot to meet and from there went to find a cafe with a TV. The game was at 8:45 local time.
Nuts is right. The city exploded when Spain won! It was like a city-wide wedding. Everyone was driving around honking their horns. Sandra and I watched the game at a restaurante down by the port and had some fresh fish and shell fish tapas.
Barcelona´s weather is beautiful. The food is great. The city is an architectural gem. The kids are all snapping pictures constantly.
We had a splendid adventure yesterday! After a very early departure at 8:00 a.m., we left Barcelona and headed northwest to Girona, a old Spanish town with a lot of amazing architecture dating back to the romans. The cathedral was beautiful and has the second largest nave in Europe behind St Peter´s in Rome. There is something truly magical about the huge, old cathedrals with the cloistered gardens that are so common here in Spain. On a hot day, they are a perfect, peaceful respite from the street. Some kids went in, others chose not to and simply strolled about the medieval quarter of the town.
The kids seem to enjoy walking about best. There is so much to soak up on the street, observing other cultures as they go about the simplest daily tasks. It´s fun to watch them at certain moments, like when they open their picnic lunches, prepared by their senoras, cast a puzzled look at something inside they´ve never seen before and dive in anyway because they´ve had to wait until 2:30 for lunch ! A huge hit yesterday was the urinal in a restaurante in Girona. It´s a wall of tinted glass that turns on and becomes a fountain when you 'make contact', if you catch my meaning. Before long, many of the guys were getting photos and trying it out. I guess the US has a thing or two to learn from Spain about tinkling in style!
After Girona, we were lucky to have an extra little feildtrip tacked on – the beach! Not any beach, mind you, but a gorgeous little beach on the Costa Brava where the mountains meet the sea and all sorts of little enclaves are cut into the rock: The kids were pumped when we first rounded the corner and the blue Mediterranean with rocks and a mountain shore spread itself out before them. One yelped that they had never seen anything so gorgeous in their lives. The water was the blue you see in photos of the Carribean and so clear and cool. You could see to the bottom and the rocky coast across the inlet. Stunning. I gave my sunscreen lecture as did the guide and off they went in small groups to swim, shop in the town, or meander about. They mentioned it was the best day to far.

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