Hola from Barcelona
Barcelona Day 1 - ¡Bienvenidos a Barcelona!
After an extremely early 02:50am meeting at LEA (thanks so much, Mr Wilson!) we loaded the suitcases and 21 very sleepy teenagers onto the bus headed for Liverpool Airport.
Check in was smooth, as was our journey through customs, and it wasn’t long before the staff were sat sipping a much needed coffee while everyone grabbed a bite to eat for breakfast. So far so good, until a certain Callum Brown received a very early award for ‘locura del día,’ whilst learning an invaluable lesson about the importance of keeping one’s hand luggage in one’s hand! The flight seemed to go incredibly quickly and we couldn’t believe our luck as the doors opened and the Spanish heat hit our faces. It felt so good to walk off the plane into beautiful sunshine. Jon ‘The Machine’ Hart had already located all 24 cases by the time we all joined him in luggage reclaim and we were soon on the bus with Miguel driving the 12km to our hotel in Barcelona city centre.
After check in, allocation of rooms and a quick scramble for the top bunks, we applied a load of suncream and headed out in search of food. Miss Widnall marched forth, her home away from home, and delighted in giving a mini tour as the group made their way to Plaza Catalunya where the students were given some free time to find lunch under strict perameters. The staff were thrilled at the number of students who, given the options, were brave enough to put their Spanish to the test in an authentic tapas restaurant. That’s the spirit!! We recharged the batteries and headed to our appointment at one of Gaudí’s most famous buildings, La Pedrera, a stunning piece of curved architecture with a beautiful rooftop and amazing views of the city.
We felt extremely lucky as we walked back to the hotel for a freshen up before dinner, which was in a nearby local restaurant. The buffet was plentiful and lots of second helpings were had after a long and tiring day. Daniel and Oliver particularly enjoyed the icecream machine at the end. A very tired bunch of Leodensians made their way back to the hotel. Some opted for bed immediately, with a hardy few choosing to stay in the social area to watch the end of the seemingly disappointing England match.
We will certainly sleep well tonight, and good job as we have another jam packed day tomorrow, starting with the Camp Nou stadium and ending with one of Miss Widnall’s favourite places, La Sagrada Familia.
Barcelona Day 2 - Más que una escuela (more than a school!).
Another phenomenal day here in Barcelona and the students have behaved impeccably once more.
We awoke to blue skies and sunshine, and once we had waited for Brandon ‘The Snail’ Zanetti to get ready we all devoured our first breakfast at the hotel - what a spread! Croissants, ham, cheese, cereals and the wonderful Colacao!! Once we were stocked up we walked out into the glorious hot weather for a brisk stroll to the nearest metro station - we had somewhere very important to be!
The students were just wonderful as we tried and failed to board the first incredibly busy underground train at the Diagonal metro station. Miss McMillan encouraged the troops after an unceremonious rebuff from the first train. “Come on, guys, we are from Leeds! We’ve got this...elbows out!” That was it...the next train and we were on in a heartbeat. Life skills taught in the LEA way!!
Six stops later and we emerged from the darkness, bolder and braver and onwards we marched to the Camp Nou stadium, home to Barcelona FC. The largest stadium in Europe certainly didn’t let us down and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the all access area pass and Michelle Boadi and Janine Barreto felt particularly comfortable in the dug out!! Future football pundits Jacques Robinson and Callum Brown made full use of the interview wall - look out for those two on Match of the Day in a few years’ time. The Champions League cup was man-handled by many of our students along with Fanboy Hart and the Boadi twins who seemed to think it would look good on their mantelpiece!
A few purchases from the Barcelona F.C. shop and we were back on the underground heading towards the Sagrada Familia, one of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings. Students were given some time to get lunch and Chamequa Rankine and Megan Nowland said how amazing it was to use their Spanish so well and interact in authentic situations using the language they have learnt. Miss Widnall had never felt more proud.
In we went to the Sagrada Familia - a truly awe inspiring place both outside and in. From the outside a really interesting and unfinished building featuring lots of intricate carvings. Upon entering, the space is so very tranquil with the stained glass windows casting all colours of the rainbow. Every member of the group was astounded, walking around such an incredible place. Maimuna Touray loved it all, but did think that Gaudí had dragged his heels a little with his artistic project!!
Back to the hotel to freshen up and out for dinner - the food tonight was amazing typical paella, estofada de ternera (beef stew) and a pork dish. Oliver Sykes was so thrilled with it all he had 3 plates - well he is certainly getting the exercise during the day! Mr Hart then taught us all why we should never use google translate for our homework when investigating what the soup was!
After a wonderful meal, spirits were high so we explored the local area in a very Spanish manner. Daniel Obeng and Dilon Brown delighted in trying to give the staff a dance lesson, though we think it was less floss, more flounder! The wander (or in Spanish, ‘paseo’) was well received and Chloe Gittins couldn’t get over how beautiful the city was at dusk - we wandered back with full tummies and hearts.
What an amazing time we are having. Another good night’s sleep needed tonight as we are in PortAventura tomorrow.
Barcelona Day 3 - Aventura y Ping Pong
Gosh, what a day. We started with an early breakfast at the hotel before Miguel picked us up on the bus to take us to PortAventura for the day. The bus was very quiet as students caught 40 winks - the itinerary is certainly doing its job!
We arrived at PortAventura raring to go, picked up the tickets and walked to the first meeting point near the biggest rollercoasters. Our students were in no way daunted by the prospect of the tallest rollercoaster in Europe and definitely appreciated the soaking they got on the log flumes on such a hot day. Everyone was really sensible in applying sun cream and staying hydrated - these few days have really cemented friendships and heightened the feeling of the LEA family. Everyone is looking after each other and what a giggle we are all having - such good company, the students are certainly doing us all proud.
After a jam packed day at the theme park we returned for a very quick turnaround before heading back out to dinner. The girls continue to be the most adventurous in terms of trying the Spanish specialities, (shout out to Debbie and Chamequa in particular!) much to the delight of the staff.
To walk off the paella, chicken and judías verdes (Mr Hart’s favourite), we walked to the plaza to challenge one another at that incredibly skilled game....table tennis. Spirits were high, the balls went flying and we all laughed a lot! Jacques Robinson showed great promise and we hope to see him in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
By the time we walked home, we were all ready for bed. A quick debrief and details around tomorrow - we can’t believe it’s our last day already! Over the last few days, in a foreign city, our wonderful Spanish students have become a little bit wiser, a lot more freckly and we have all laughed a great deal. ¡Qué suerte tenemos!
Tomorrow we have a huge day exploring unchartered areas of the city, the apprentice market task, a hike up to Montjuic and the cable car back down to the marina to end our trip at the beach. We can’t wait!
Barcelona Day 4 - 31,283 steps and a cracking last day!
In a bid to squeeze as much out of our break in Barcelona as absolutely possible, we started with an early breakfast ahead of a long day of exploring in the sun.
First off, a quick jaunt down the now familiar Passeig de Grácia towards Plaza Catalunya and slowly snaking our way towards the wonderful assault on all the senses which is La Boquería Market, just off La Rambla. Miss Widnall demanded a list of items for the Apprentice Task and handed out 5€ to each team. We were so impressed with how the students used their language and negotiation skills to pick up all the items and some authentic Catalan phrases. Chamequa, Megan, Sofia & Keira won for their ingenue and adept use of Castellano.
After this we met Carlos, our guide for 2 hours. He was the perfect mix of knowledgable, personable and hilarious and immediately gaged the group’s humour. We explored all areas of the old town including the Cathedral, old Roman ruins and the best Churrería in town, much to the students’ delight! Just don’t mention the boys’ headgear!!
After Carlos dropped us back off out of the meandering old town to La Rambla, we had some free time to buy some lunch and do some shopping...a tapa here and a pintxo there, and we were ready for the hike up to Montjuic Castle. The students showed great resilience and positivity as we climbed the hill in high temperatures - the views were certainly worth it, even if Miss W’s tradition of a cheesy group photo while Freddy Mercury and Montserrat Caballé’s 1992 Olympic opening tune, ‘Barcelona’ blasted from her phone. Some more than others were grateful for the series of cable cars down to the marina and despite its bloody history, Montjuic was enjoyed by all.
A quick paddle in the sea and we were off again. This time absolutely bossing the tube (how far we have come) towards the hotel for a quick change around before dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.
With glad rags on and ready to enjoy our last night, we marched on down to Plaza Catalunya. Burgers all round and giggles galore followed by our trip rewards ceremony featuring prizes for all sorts, but every one embodying our LEA core values. We laughed and joked as we recalled the last few days, how much we have squeezed in to our time here and the awesome memories we have made.
We all walked home through this beautiful illuminated city on an absolute high. The staff feel so proud of the way the students have conducted themselves throughout and soundbites such as: “it’s been amazing, Miss!”; “I’ve learnt so much;” and, “Can we not spend another week here? I’ve got enough clothes....” echoed around La Pedrera as we passed it for the last time.
Over 13 miles walked in one day, but all with a smile. We return to Leeds tomorrow full of stories, new experiences and jolly anecdotes (just ask about the goose)...and look forward to sharing it all with you.
Barcelona 2018 - més que un club, más que una escuela....somos familia