On Friday 15th October, the Spanish department eagerly set off with 22 A level students to Santa Eulalia, just outside  Barcelona where our pupils spent one week with host families as part of our exchange.  Aquinas is linked with IES Vall del Tenes, Santa Eulalia.  Our pupils have benefited enormously from this strong partnership over the years, and this year is no exception.

Cadaqués video


On Monday morning we set off on the train to Barcelona where we took in the sights and wonders of the works of Gaudí.  The Sagrada Familia was truly a breathtaking building.  It was particularly interesting to see just how much of the work has been completed on this unique church.  We learnt that the completion date for the Sagrada Familia will be 2026.  Later in the afternoon, we paid a visit to La Pedrera, another example of Gaudí’s  amazing architecture.




Tuesday was our day to explore the world of Salvador Dalí.  We began the day at Dalí’s house in Cadaqués.  The guided tour allowed us to gain insight into the life of the man.  The stuffed bear and swans certainly caught our attention, as did the Michelin man in the garden and the eggs which the pupils were able to squeeze into!  After getting a flavour for Dalí’s life, we then headed on to see his works of art in the Museo Dalí.  For many, this was one of the highlights of the day and indeed the week.  The pupils got to see many of Dali’s works and the museum really grabbed their imaginations as they wondered from room to room and each work of art more breathtakingly creative then the one before.


On Wednesday, we headed to Monserrat monastery.  The journey there was enjoyable as the views leading to the monastery, which is built into the hillside, were truly spectacular.  In the afternoon we went to Caves Cordorniu and learnt about the process involved in the making of cava.



The next day was our Barcelona day which meant we visited Parc Guëll, and we enjoyed the view of the city.  A spot of shopping was built into the itinerary which ensured everyone got those last minute presents and then we made our way to Camp Nou, the world famous Barcelona FC stadium.  For the Barça fans, this was a dream come true and many of our pupils wore their azulgrana jerseys for the occasion.  Some even discussed team tactics in the Away Team changing room!


We returned to the school in the evening where our hosts had organised a farewell party for our pupils, their exchange partners and the host families.  We had an enjoyable evening and it was a lovely opportunity to show our thanks to our hosts for what was a truly unforgettable week.   Anna and Charley perform a graceful Irish dance and the whole group gave a hearty rendition of “Tell Me Ma”.  The pupils gave eloquent speeches in English, Spanish, Catalan and Irish.  It was clear that very strong friendships had been formed.


Our pupils made this a truly memorable trip and they really embraced the opportunity to enhance their linguistic skills as well as broadening their  awareness of Spanish and Catalan culture.  We look forward to the Catalans’ return trip to Belfast in March 2011.