It’s officially CRUNCH TIME! We’ve had a cultured few days since our Barcelona arrival: a walking tour of our neighbourhoods, Gracia/Eixample, a stroll through the cobblestoned Gothic Quarter, and window shopping through the small streets of the neighbouring and more upscale quarter of El Born. 

During our second evening in Barcelona, some of the staff took the students down to the port where locals and tourists alike pile into the streets for their late dinners while street performers play various instruments and please the crowd. 

On Saturday, a some of us went on a three-hour bike tour of the city.  Something about being on a bicycle brought out the kid in all of us.  It was nostalgic, to say the least!  Saturday in Barcelona lends itself to very busy streets.  So busy that we would never dare ride our bikes through the narrow twists and turns of the different barrios…oh but we did JUST that!  There we were, a bunch of Canadians turned ‘Goonies’ riding through eclectic neighbourhoods with passers by standing aside for our herd of matching blue bicycles.  Our guide, Nick, was a British fellow who moved to Barcelona 18 years ago and never once looked back.  He was knowledgeable, entertaining, and got along great with the students. Part of our tour included riding our bikes down the boardwalk of the beach.  We sat close to the sand for a little while as we watched surfers work their magic on the Mediterranean while listening to a busker strum his guitar in the near distance.  It was bliss.  Our next and final stop on the tour was a very local-style restaurant, which served us fresh tapas!  I guess this was our pre-appetizer, considering dinner was less than two hours away!

Yesterday we took the group to the beautiful Park Guell, which showcases the unique and stunning architecture of Antoni Gaudi – someone who we’ve come to grow quite fondly of as we see bits and pieces of this work scattered throughout the city. 

Today we visited the must-see Sagrada Familia; Gaudi’s basilica that has been in construction since 1882.  And no, it is not yet finished.  Pictures don’t do it justice, but when you physically visit the temple, you understand why it is so necessary to spend hundreds of years on the project.

Aside from the quick visits we have had, the teachers and students are very busy with academics.  In order for everyone to soak up all of the culture while remaining on task, we are ensuring that ‘stay in nights’ (three this week) are scheduled and extra study time is allotted when needed.  The teachers have been working very hard to keep our students on track, and the students are not backing down from their academic duties!  They consistently show prowess in their academics by staying on top of their work and making responsible decisions to appropriately manage their time.  As ISUs and exams are coming up Monday and Tuesday of next week, everyone is in full academic mode and is doing a really great job. 

This week will be dedicated to class…and class only.  Our next excursion is hiking in the Pyrenees on Saturday, and a quick visit to the Picasso museum on Sunday.

Your children are doing a fabulous job.  Joe, myself, and all of the teachers are constantly pleased with their behaviour, their flexibility, and their academic habits.  We thank you for sending them on this journey with us.  And as always, we thank you for the incredible support you give to them, and to us, on a daily basis.

Until our next update!