In the early hours of Friday 12th April forty seven Transition Year students along with six teachers gathered in the dining area of St. David’s Secondary School for the annual TY tour. The destination for this year was Barcelona on the east coast of Spain. There were more than a few groggy faces as students boarded the bus that would take them to the airport.
On arrival students were guided through security and then had the opportunity to get some breakfast. To the dismay of the teachers a large number of students opted for the very continental ‘Burger King’ option. The Aer Lingus flight departed for Barcelona on time and at this stage even Senan was fully awake.
After touching down in Barcelona students gathered their baggage and boarded a coach that would take them to the Los Rambles area of the city. Here students had the opportunity to explore the area and get some lunch. After his earlier trip to Burger King Louis simply wasn’t able for the nearby McDonald’s.
The afternoon activity for Day 1 was the Nou Camp stadium and museum tour. For many this was the part of the trip that they looked forward to most. I have never seen Rory as excited about anything within the school building! Students had the opportunity to meander around the museum at their own pace and explore the fantastic 99,000 seater stadium. Some suggested that this is where Manchester United would triumph during their quarter final with the Catalan giants the following week but hindsight has proven them totally mistaken! After a quick look around the Barcelona shop students were back aboard the coach for the hour long journey to Salou where the hotel was situated. It was a very peaceful bus trip with several students taking their chance to catch up on some sleep. Even Sam and Cian managed to give the Rubik’s Cube a break for a few minutes.
Students were organised into their rooms and ventured down to the restaurant for their buffet dinner that evening. As a group we also walked to the local shop to allow students to purchase some refreshments and have a look at some souvenirs. After this it was back to the hotel for the debrief of the day and off to bed for an early night!
Day 2 began in nice warm weather conditions. After an excellent buffet breakfast students were back on board the bus en route to Barcelona. The first stop of the day was the Picasso museum which showed magnificent works from the Spanish painter. Students had the opportunity to explore the museum at their own pace and only for the fact that the next stop was a shopping centre I would imagine that Stephanie, Cian and Sophie would still be there.
The second stop of the day was the Maremagnum shopping centre in Barcelona. This was time where students had the opportunity to get lunch but some did make the most of their opportunity for shopping. Ruby even managed to purchase a new hat, while Rory and Seán made a new friend with the purchase of some football jerseys.
From the shopping centre we made the short trip to Parc Guell. This Gaudí designed outdoor area had plenty to see but also gave both students and teachers the opportunity to relax and take some photos in the vibrant sunshine.
It was then time to return to the hotel for anther buffet dinner (the lads had grown fond of the frozen yoghurt by this stage!) before setting out to the House of Illusion for an evening show of magic and mystery. Here the students were dazzled by classic illusionist performances, acrobatics, along with some excellent card tricks, all performed by an entertaining and enthusiastic team.
This was the day that a large number of students (and Mr. Carey in particular) had been waiting for. Students spent the entire day in Port Aventura theme park which was only about a 15-minute bus journey from the hotel. Highlights of the day included the Furious Baco roller-coaster, which manages to reach 140 km/h in just three seconds, Shambhala and what became known as ‘the drop’. Even the quietest of student uttered a few screams when suspended 100m up! How Roy managed to survive the day will always be a mystery.
After the theme park it was back to the hotel for another excellent buffet meal. Students then had to pack up their belongings in preparation for flying out the following evening. There was time for a quick trip to the shops before bed.
The final morning of the trip began in beautiful sunshine. A walk to the beach was the first item on the itinerary for students. Here they had the opportunity to take some photos and relax with a friendly game of what can only be described as Frisbee rugby. We also managed to take our group photos in this scenic location.
En route back to Barcelona we stopped for an hour in Tarragona. The walled Medieval old-town gave students another opportunity to gain an insight into some Spanish history while the view out over the amphitheatre provided spectacular sweeping sights over the Mediterranean Sea.
Next was a trip to a second shopping centre where Vinnie was spotted in a jewellers. This was the ideal location to pick up the last minute souvenirs to bring back to family and friends and plenty made the most of this opportunity.
The students then took part in what was supposed to be a half day walking tour of Barcelona. However, the legs were getting tired at this stage and the excellent host arranged transport to the different locations via bus. As part of the tour students got the birds eye-view of the city from the top of one of the many hills surrounding Barcelona. There was also an excellent tour of the outside of the imposing Segrada Familia, the large unfinished Roman Catholic Church, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The final stop of the tour was an ice cream parlour where all students were treated to an ice cream of their choice. It rounded off what was a terrific end to a fantastic few days.
Students then climbed aboard the coach in Barcelona for the final time and made the short journey to the airport. Despite a delay on the way home the students behaved admirably and all teachers will agree that it was a pleasure to accompany them on what was an excellent trip. The bus finally pulled back into Greystones around 3am on Tuesday morning, a couple of hours behind schedule, but with everyone safe and sound!