Travel home

We will keep you updated on our ETA. You can track our progress (except when we’re in the air) through this link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/wupZw2DVdcP7NqGy9

We are safely at Reus airport, through security and currently our plane is due to depart at the scheduled time.

1536 CET – on board and ready to depart!

1643 BST – touched down safely in UK! Use link above to track our progress and see you at school in a short while.

At the beach

Our final day in Tarragona, and what better way to spend the day than with a visit to the beach? We and our Spanish partners made our way to the Playa de la Mora, at first by public transport – not sure what the “regular” people made of this…

Then our exchange school staff were very keen to show off the Bosc de la Marquesa – a rare example of a forest that still exists right on the coastline. This made for a lovely walk of just under 3 miles, with only a few “how much further is it?”s along the way, before reaching a stunning beach. The fact that it was a gorgeous day also helped.

At the beach there was time for relaxing, swimming or playing some beach sports, and for the first time this year students were given the opportunity to also do some kayaking. Most students participated in this, alongside me and Mr Scott, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience – although almost all of us ended up in the sea when given the challenge of standing up in the kayak!

Overall, a lovely end to a lovely trip. We will be saying our goodbyes (adiós) tomorrow afternoon and I will update the blog with one final post with travel updates and so on. Thanks for reading and we look forward to reuniting you with your children tomorrow evening!

Cava, Sitges and Port Aventura

On Wednesday, we headed first to the Caves Codorniu, a local winery. Despite students’ insistence that this was “just a trip for the teachers”, they did experience a little local history and got to ride on a couple of trains around the premises and through the caves. A non-alcoholic grape drink rounded off the visit and a number of students bought presents for parents in the gift shop that we are currently keeping under lock and key!

Off then to the seaside town of Sitges, where students had a small amount of time to explore the beach and local amenities, before heading back to the school and to host families for the evening.

Today was many students’ highlight of the week: the trip to Port Aventura theme park! It was reasonably busy and queues were long, but students generally were able to get on a few of the most popular rides and experience those thrills.

Overall, a lengthy but exciting day with just one full day left in Tarragona. We hit the beach tomorrow, which involves getting public transport – herding 35 students onto and off of a public bus will be good fun! – and then a mile or so walk to the beach – we can hear the moaning already! However, the beach itself is stunning and relaxing, and will be well worth it.

Reus

Somehow we are already over halfway through the trip – time is flying by! Today was a more relaxed day, beginning with a formal welcome at the host school, the Institut Antoni de Martí i Franquès, including a brief history of Tarragona, and then a tour of the school.

We then took the short ride to Reus, where we visited the Gaudí museum and learned more about his life and his works.

Gaudí museum

After this, it was time for some free time in Reus itself, to shop, explore, or just chill. Students’ noses (and Google Maps) once again managed to seek out the McDonald’s – we’re sure they are being fed by the host families! – and they found time too to shop for gifts and souvenirs.

So far, students have been pretty excellent at following instructions and being at the arranged places at the arranged times, which has been good. Tomorrow, it is another early start as we head off to a Cava company and then to the seaside town of Sitges.

Barcelona

Monday brought with it the harsh reality of early starts once again, and we met students at the school at 7:55 ready to board the coach to our first destination, Parc Güell. Despite the coach driver seemingly taking the steepest, narrowest, and twistiest roads in Barcelona, we made our way safely there and were treated to a guided tour of this famous park.

This park was originally designed by Gaudi to be a collection of “executive” houses in his own unique style, but because of funding issues only a small handful of actual houses were built leaving a large and beautifully ornate park in his memory.

From here, we scooted by the Sagrada Familia, the huge and not-yet-finished cathedral (also designed by Gaudi) that is due to be completed sometime in the next decade.

Off then to Camp Nou, the stadium of FC Barcelona, where students were free to explore the stadium and its merchandise, which appealed to some more than others!

Finally, we took a walk along Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famous central pedestrianised streets, where students had a short amount of time to do some authentic Spanish shopping… Most ended up in Subway or Burger King!

A full-on day, we handed students back to host families around 7:45pm and in a few hours’ time we’ll be seeing them again, bright and breezy, ready to explore the Gaudi museum in Reus.

Exploring Tarragona

We have all had a fabulous first full day in Tarragona, kicking off the day with a walking tour of the sights and history of the city. We began by exploring some of the original Roman ruins and visiting the two towers that formed a major part of the structure during Roman times, one of which gave the opportunity to climb to the top and get some great views of the city.

Following this, we headed down to a largely intact Roman amphitheatre at the edge of the city, and were talked through how this would have formed a major part of the community at the time, with Gladiatorial contests being a major part of the entertainment of the day.

Later, we visited the Cathedral of Tarragona, which is told to be the fourth largest in the world. It is an extremely impressive building, with plenty of history and incredible architecture and design. Students were talked through the importance of the cathedral as well as introduced to the story of Santa Tecla, a woman who was due to be sentenced to death for defecting her faith but survived all attempts to administer her sentence. There was also the opportunity for one of our students to light a candle in memory of a loved one.

The day was rounded off with a visit to the Castells, or human towers. These are a Catalonian tradition, with regular competitions and displays across the area. They really are a sight to behold and the speed and dexterity at which they are built is really phenomenal.

All students are now safely with their host families for the weekend, and we can’t wait to catch up with them again on Monday to find out what they have been up to. Parents, if you speak to or message your child tomorrow or Sunday, please remind them that they need to text the emergency phone before 5pm each day to confirm that all is well.

Safe arrival

We have arrived safely in Spain and have made our way to the exchange school to meet the host families – a happy reunion and much excitement on seeing each other again! Students have the evening to catch up with one another and then hopefully get an early night to be up bright and breezy for tomorrow’s walking tour of Tarragona.

Bon Voyage!

Thanks to all parents for promptly dropping off their children this morning! We are safely at Birmingham airport, exploring the shops for a little while until we board around 1.

Further updates once we’re in Spain.