Busy in Barcelona!
It seems like we just arrived in Barcelona and yet our time here is coming to an end. The land of Gaudi’s whimsical architecture, siestas and fiestas, has left us embracing the spirit and heart of Barcelona. And, like the adjacent sea, this region is thrilling, yet warm and inviting.
As you have probably already heard from your children, our busy schedule has been filled with academics; walking tours; excursions—both scheduled and optional; beach and surf; laundry runs; gelato visits and plenty of Catalan meals with tapas. We have packed in an active itinerary that is both educational and cultural. Students are now well aware of the diversity that exists in Spain, geographically as well as culturally. The main language of our region here is Catalan whereas Spanish is spoken throughout the rest of Spain. We are reminded daily, and often by our tour guides, that Spain has two official languages and two uniquely distinct cultures. Yet, we marvel that as many as 17 smaller autonomous regions co-exist.
Today, we completed our final excursion in the Montserrat Mountains where eight of us visited a 10th Century Romanesque Monastery before we journeyed on horseback through the Catalonian foothills. The panoramic scenery was indeed awe-inspiring.
To further capture some of the highlights of these past few days, Nic Catania, our English and photography teacher, has offered to share his unique perspective on what our Blyth students have been up to recently. Kindly scroll down for his thoughtful account.
Head of School
Hello from Barcelona!
Nothing beats coming to Spain, whether it’s for the first time or reeling in the nostalgia of returning once again. To quote our dear Hemingway, “there is no other country in the world like Spain.”
We have taken to the neighbourhood of Poblenou, a once industrialized quarter of the city which beams with local life, untouched and utterly Catalan. Not only have we enjoyed the tastes of multiple tapas dishes, but we are also conveniently located just minutes from the beach where students spend their afternoons jumping through the waves and bathing on the faint sand.
This week was full of adventures. Students had an up-close and personal visit of Sagrada Família, the jewel of Barcelona. This neo-Gothic cathedral has been under construction since 1882 with a completion date set for 2026. We were all immediately overtaken by the grandiosity of the cathedral’s interior stained glass windows which shone luminously down on us despite the rainy afternoon. We ended our visit with the museum down below and headed off to a nearby restaurant for our first savoury tapas experience.
By the end of the week we all became well-acquainted with Antoni Gaudí, the architect of Barcelona. Students and staff trekked to the top of the city where we visited Parc Guell, yet another modern masterpiece. Originally constructed to be a housing development at the turn of the 20th century, Gaudí transformed this area into a public park with hanging gardens and modern mosaics which hold true to the culture of Catalonia. Students spent the afternoon touring the houses and snapping photos in the gardens before making the journey back down to the beach.
If this week wasn’t enough between classes and visits to famous landmarks, students took part in our optional excursions to hike in the Pyrenees followed by a beach bicycle tour on Sunday. Prior to hiking in the mountains, students stopped in the small town of Vic, most popularly known as the epicentre of Catalonian culture. We then jumped on a tram and headed up into the mountains where we enjoyed the many scenic and breathtaking views of the Pyrenees Mountains. Sunday brought full sun with many visits to the beach and an optional biking tour of Barcelona in the morning.
Our photography class has taken on the tradition of night class on stay-in nights. Students captured utterly stunning work down by the local carnival where they played with neon lights and fooled around on the beach cast by Mediterranean moonlight.
As midterms approach, students are well on their way to channelling their energies into tests and assignments before continuing on with the journey. My heart flutters with adoration as we prepare to depart for Florence on Wednesday and settle in Rome the following week.
Yours around the world,