Barcelona 2011

spanishflag Miss Breeze is going to visit one of our link schools, Els Pins, in Barcelona from 19th October until 29th October 2011. Whenever she gets a chance, she will post some updates direct to this blog so we can see what she has been up to!

Please feel free to leave a comment on any of her posts!

Day Ten -Viernes/Friday Continued

Our last day in Barcelona was cold and wet. We spent the day at Els Pins where the children were busy preparing for the 'La Castanyada' celebrations in the afternoon. They made special masks and cones to collect their chestnuts and sweets. They created a large 'castanyera', a lady that sells chestnuts on the street, that was displayed in the entrance hall.

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Some of the teachers joined Miss Kenny and I for tapas at lunch to mark our last day at the school. We bought Mar some flowers to say thank you for all her help during our time at Els Pins.

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Then it was back to school to join in with the celebrations. The Year 6 children wore traditional costumes and shared out all the special food to the younger children. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Els Pins and have lots of lovely work to share with everyone at home. Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to visit again one day.

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We wanted to make the most of our last day, so after finishing school at 4:30 we jumped back on the Metro and hotfooted it across to the Museu Olimpic I de l'Esport. This is a museum containing artefacts and information on the Olympic games. The Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona in 1992 and visiting the museum has made me really excited for London 2012!

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After the museum we traveled back to our accommodation ready to catch the bus to Gerona airport. Our flight home was delayed by an hour but that gave us time to have something to eat before we got on our flight.

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I feel extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to take part in the trip to Barcelona and am sad to be home. Barcelona is an amazing city and Els Pins is a wonderful school that we are lucky to have links with. I am thankful to the British Council for providing the funding for the trip and to Mrs Allen for her support with my visit. I have met some great colleagues and look forward to developing links with all the schools involved in the trip in the future!

Day Ten -Viernes/Friday

We had a lovely meal last night to celebrate the end of our successful trip. We were really pleased that Carmen and Isabel were able to join us. They presented us with our University certificates and gave me a letter for Mrs Allen. They also said that they had seen this blog and thought it was so good that they have put a link to it on the Barcelona University site! I'll have to make sure I mention that in my report, about the trip, for the British Council.

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I had a delicious 'Arroz negro con gambas y almejas' which was black paella, made using squid ink, with prawns and clams.

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We are looking forward to joining in with the celebrations at Els Pins later for 'La Castanyada'. The Castanyada is a popular traditional Catalan festival, celebrated on All Saints' Day and in the evening before. Traditionally, ‘castanyes’ (roast chestnuts) are eaten along with ‘moniatos’ (roast sweet potatoes) and ‘panellets’ (small almond balls covered in pine nuts). Historically, La Castanyada was to honour saints and dead ancestors. Whole villages would stay awake in vigil, and the church bells would ring throughout the night. The traditional, high energy foods were served up to prevent them from feeling ill from lack of sleep and the effort of ringing the heavy bells. Children at Els Pins have been busy preparing special food and decorations all week so I'm really excitied about joining them for their celebrations.

Day Nine-Jueves/Thursday

Today we have been back with Mar at Els Pins. In the morning we saw her teaching English with a Year 5 class. We talked to them about Halloween and completed a Halloween quiz. It was Axel's 10th birthday today so we joined in with the celebrations in his class. All the children sang Happy Birthday in Catalan, Spanish and English and he shared his birthday cake with everyone, it was delicious!

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Next, we walked around the school and dropped into different classes. The children in every class we saw greeted us in perfect English and wanted to talk to us.

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In the afternoon we worked with Mar in a Year 6 class. It was a Science lesson looking at the senses but it was all taught in English! They invested the senses through practical investigations, just like we do at Whitehouse Common.

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After school we went back to the Sargarda Familia to join the very long queue and wait to go inside. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long and it only cost €12.50 to get in. The cathedral has been under construction for over 100 years. Construction began in 1882, and Gaudi replaced the original architect in 1883.

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It’s interior was completed last year so Pope Benedict XVI visited on 7th November 2010 to consecrate the building. There was an interesting exhibition, in one of the rooms in the basement of the cathedral, showing how the shapes from nature inspired Gaudi. The pillars inside are designed to look like tree trunks and the circular staircases like a round snail shells.

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Tonight is our last night in this beautiful city, so to celebrate a fantastic trip the whole group is meeting up to go for tapas. Schools from Birmingham that have teachers on our trip are:

Court Farm School, Erdington

Saint James Primary School, Handsworth

Bordesley Village Primary School, Birmingham

Holy Cross Catholic School, Sutton Coldfield

We fly back to Birmingham tomorrow but we will have chance to join in with special celebrations at Els Pins tomorrow afternoon for 'La Castanyada'. I will update the blog, to tell you about it, once I’m home.

Adios from Barcelona!

Day Eight -Miércoles/Wednesday

Dinner last night was traditional Spanish tapas. We enjoyed calamari, potatas bravas, jamon serrano and pan de tomate.

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We had a great evening with Mar and some of the other teachers from Els Pins School at the quiz. To get there, we jumped on the Metro and when we walked out of the station we were greeted by the magnificent sight of the Sargarda Familia bathed in moonlight.

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After the quiz, we had a quick dash to the station so that we could catch the last Metro home to our accommodation in Barcelonatta. We only just made it!

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Today has been filled with glorious sunshine! We arrived at Els Pins and spent the morning with the infant classes where Mar was teaching English. The children were all learning about Halloween and Miss Kenny and I shared all the Halloween resources that we had packed with us -costumes, decorations and flash cards. They loved the costumes and enjoyed finding out about how we celebrate Halloween in the UK. I’m amazed how confidently, even the youngest children in the school, speak English. The children take home a journal that is checked by the teachers daily, just like our planners at Whitehouse Common!

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Morning lessons finished at 12:30, so Miss Kenny and I were able to leave school and enjoy our sandwiches in the sun. Els Pins School is located right next to the Barcelona University campus so we popped to visit Carmen and Isabel, our course tutors, to invite them to dinner tomorrow evening so the whole group can celebrate the end of a successful trip.

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The lessons began again at 3:00 so they all enjoy a two and a half hour lunchtime. We worked with Juliet in the afternoon, who also teaches English like Mar. We helped her look at Halloween with the Year 4 class and I shared with her all the special work that everyone at Whitehouse Common had prepared for me to give Els Pins.

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School finished at 4:30, a whole hour later than at home! We got the Metro back to Parc Guell and, after climbing hill again, we visited ‘Casa Museu Gaudi’. This was where Gaudi lived and it was filled with examples of the furniture that Gaudi designed for different properties. No photos sorry, my camera battetry died as I'd taken so many at Els Pins!

After that we strolled through Gacia. This was a separate town from Barcelona originally, but now that Barcelona has expanded, it’s known as an interesting and diverse area. We visited a photography exhibition, ‘Fundació Foto Colectania’. The exhibition was by the photographer Joan Colom, showing photos of the city’s Raval district in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was an atmospheric view of old Barcelona. I feel like I have walked hundreds of miles this afternoon and will certainly sleep we tonight. I’m looking forward to another exciting day in school tomorrow.


Day Seven -Martes/Tuesday

After another early start we headed for our last Spanish session at the university. We finished the course by looking at common irregular verbs and how to conjugate them, as well as giving presentations about how to best teach Spanish using stories.

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As a thank you, we bought the course tutors, Carmen and Isabel, some beautiful orchids. They were very surprised and loved them. It was a lovely way to finish our last day at Barcelona University.

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A quick lunch and then we had our first visit to Els Pins School. Mar was there to meet us and she gave Miss Kenny (another teacher on the trip from Court Farm School) and I a tour of the buildings and grounds. All the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly and I’m very excited about being able to observe some of the lessons tomorrow. Mar also invited us both to join her and some of the other staff from Els Pins for some Basque tapas and a ‘Pub Quiz’ later this evening.

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Next, we made our way down La Rambla De Catalyna and found a fantastic tapas bar where we stopped for some traditional ‘Torrija de Sant Teresa’ Santa Teresa’s infused crispy milk bread. It was delicious!

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To finish the day, we traveled to La Zona Alta, an area in the hills full of beautiful houses. We traveled to the top of the hill and were rewarded with a magnificent view of the whole city. We enjoyed spotting different sights that we had visited in the glorious sunshine.

A quick stop at our accommodation and it’s back out again to meet Mar from Els Pins. I’m looking forward to being with a Spanish collogue that will be able to talk us through a tapas menu.

Day Six -Lunes/Monday

This morning I awoke to the sound of torrential rain, thunder and lightening. The rain continued on and off all day. We spent the majority of the day continuing our course at the university, looking at reflexive verbs and how best to teach the importance of pronunciation.

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Lunch was a feast of various different Basque tapas dishes shared with some of the other teachers from the group.

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For me, the highlight of the trip so far was this evening when we visited Casa Batlló. This is one of the houses designed by Gaudi. It was absolutely fabulous and I’m amazed how modern a building that was rebuilt between 1898 and 1906 can be. Locals know Casa Batlló as ‘Casa dels ossos’ (House of dragons) or ‘Casa del drac’ (House of the dragon).

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Everything swirls and the internal light wells shimmer with tiles of deep blue sea. Gaudi eschewed the straight line and the staircase wafts you up to the top of the building. As I’m writing this blog, three hours after my visit, I’m still blown away by how magical the house is. I’d definitely recommend anyone lucky enough to be visiting Barcelona to go and see it for themselves!

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Day Five -Domingo/Sunday

Today has been another busy day exploring the city. We started the day with a Metro ride to visit the Sagrada Familia. It is one of Gaudi's most famous works in Barcelona. It's a giant Basilica that has been under construction since 1882 (that's not a typing error!) and it's not expected to be completed for another 30 years. Gaudi played an active role in directing the construction of the Sagrada Familia until his death in 1926. He would often request that work be modified and adjusted until it was exactly what he had in mind. However today, because of the nature of the existing designs, his work is partly open to interpretation. It's an amazing building and hopefully I'll be able to visit Barcelona in 30 years time to see it completed!

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After visiting the cathedral we jumped back on the Metro and headed back towards Montjuïc Mountain. We caught another cable car up towards the castle. Montjuïc Castle is an imposing castle that has dominated the city since 1640. The views from the castle were fabulous and I took some great photos. I also managed to find a yellow postbox so I could post all the postcards that I have written. I hope people receive them before I get home! 2HB will have to keep checking the letter tray when they get back to school after half term.

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After visiting the castle we went back on the Metro to get to the Ramblas. We looked in lots of shops then I made my way back to the accommodation and will shortly be heading out for some dinner. I have lots of homework to do before we are at the university tomorrow so don't want to be back late!

Day Four -Sábado/Saturday

Last night we had a delicious seafood Paella for dinner at a restaurant called 'Tapa Tapa'. The restaurant was near the aquarium and had been recommended by Mrs Dixon from when she visited Barcelona with Miss Harper and Mrs Stevens earlier in the year.

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Today started very early and I managed to go for a run along the seafront. We all met at the Cable car in Port Vell, the views from onbaord were fantastic. The 'Teleférico del Puerto' took us from the port to Miramar, on the slopes of Montjuic.

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Next we walked along to the Fundació Joan Miró. On the way we spotted the outdoor swimming pool used for the Olympic games that took place here in 1992. The next stop was at the art museum for the spanish artist Joan Miró. Miró is among the most iconic of modern artists, using a language of symbols that reflects his personal vision, sense of freedom, and energy.

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Our course tutors, Carmen and Isabel, came with us to the museum. They told us about a food festival 'Mercat de Mercats' that was taking place in the city. The 'Market of Markets' took place on the square in front of Barcelona Cathedral. It is a three day gastronomic festival for Barcelona to present the best of Catalan and Mediterranean food and cooking. We sampled lots of different tapas and I especially enjoyed the pudding!

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Next, we wandered back to our accommodation and it was a quick change before heading out again. We met up with the teachers from Holy Cross for dinner and noticed that it was 20°C!

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Day Three -Viernes/Friday

Today was another full day learning Spanish at Barcelona University. I took Barnaby Bear along with me for the journey and he enjoyed catching the Metro. We had to teach the rest of the group our poem which was called 'Vestidos'. When the day at the university had finished we headed towards Parc Guell. The Park Guell was formed with the joining of two areas 'Can Muntaner de Dalt' and 'Can Coll i Pujol', in the 'Muntanya Pelada' (today muntanya del Caramel), purchased by Count Güell the year 1899. It houses work by Anton Gaudi. Tomorrow we are heading to the 'Funcdació Joan Miró' which we are hopefully getting to by cable car! I'm looking forward to enjoying more Tapas tonight and hope to get up extra early tomorrow morning so that I can go for a run along the seafront.

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Day Two -Jueves/Thursday

barca5Dinner last night was a selection of tapas and it was delicious! It was a very early start this morning, as the University is over an hour away. We jumped on two different Metro lines and then climbed our way up hundreds of steps to reach the university buildings, situated at the top of a very high hill.

Our course tutors, Carmen and Isabel, are lovely but they wouldn't speak any English all day and banned it from the classroom! I feel like I've been thrown in at the deep end but I'd say my Spanish is definitely improving.

We spent all day learning Spanish and then had to climb our way down all the steps again. We got back on the Metro but decided to get off at Catalunya station so that we could walk back to our accommodation along the Ramblas and through Port Vell.

Tonight, I am busy learning a poem that I have to teach to the rest of the group tomorrow.

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Day One -Miércoles/Wednesday Continued

I arrived safely in Barcelona late this afternnon after a stress free flight. A one hour bus ride later and we were in the city centre. I am staying in the University residence which is right next to the beach. It's really warm and the sun is shining! We walked around the local area this afternoon and shortly I will be heading out for some dinner. I'm looking forward to starting at Barcelona University in the morning.

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