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Issue 13 - A Week in Barcelona
jessica davies from Ecclesbourne School, Duffield

Jessica Davies is a Year 11 student at The Ecclesbourne School, Duffield and is a regular columnist within the pages of this magazine.

Barcelona is the second biggest city in Spain, but to be there you really wouldn’t know. It is sprinkled liberally with many large open spaces, long sunny paths and wide roads. As a group of 20 pupils learning Spanish and 2 teachers on a school trip to Barcelona, we were bursting with excitement and ready to explore the city. The buildings are often old brick and interspersed with some amazing feat of architecture and design.

A brilliant example of this is La Sagrada Familia by Gaudi. It rises out of the everyday landscape and points eye-squintingly high. The intricate sculptures and detail that is built into the rock is certainly something to wonder at.

We saw Gaudi's mosaicked Parque Guell and Casa Batlló, two more impressive works, as well as el Barrio Goticó - the oldest part of Barcelona. We even took the bus ride to see Salvador Dali's Teatro-Museo at nearby town Figueres. The bizarre building houses a fascinating range of medium and inspiration from the surrealist artist, including his famous painting “The Persistence of Time” and numerable works inspired by his wife Gala.

Cadaques is an adorable town just outside Barcelona. Here, you see some classically Spanish views and enjoy a pebbly seafront. Another ride up that road is Port Lligat where there is the white curiosity that is Dali's house. Different levels, odd furniture and one bizarre stuffed polar bear made up the unusual interior.

Back in Barcelona we visited La Rambla, a long street with many stalls selling live animals, postcards, flowers or food. La Boqueria, a giant indoor market with mouth watering displays of sweets, spices, ice cream and produce provided an intense assault on the senses.

We spent plenty of time at the beach of Barcelona. This is a man made beach created by pouring tonnes of imported sand on the shoreline to aid the tourist industry.

Being blessed with blue cloud free skies meant saltwater paddling and sun tanning on the golden sand was a prerequisite. Many a happy hour was spent smiling there and thinking of our poor lesson-bound peers back in England!

Although, the language school Isla which organised parts of the trip did in fact provide us with an intensive 4 hours of Spanish lessons daily. However, these were speckled with games and breaks, when we relaxed barefoot on the warm bricks, taking photos, sipping coke and eating Kinder bars!

Imagine a dimly lit room and a stage where a loud live band sits clapping and drumming. Throw a powerful female vocalist into the mix and you have what was our flamenco night. Oh and the dancer herself of course! The woman stamped her feet and twisted her body so ferociously I got exhausted just watching her and her fast intricate footwork. Sevilla in the South of Spain is where this angry dance originated, but luckily for us it is so popular that it can be seen all over.

The tapas evening was another complete surprise, filled with oily and spicy treats. I’ll never forget when a waiter in the first bar leant down and “deliberately” set the bowl of chorizo alight! After the squeals subsided, we greatly enjoyed watching the blue flames dance as the sausage sizzled. In the fish bar, drunk on sugar and nightime, we crowded around the counter to try salty calamares and fried patatas bravas. Yummy! At the end of each action packed day we returned to the warm welcome of our host’s for a meal and attempt at “fluent” conversation – well, sort of!

Wonderful times were had by all, and it was a week that I'll never forget – especially not with my 448 photos to aid my memory! I love Barcelona, and if you ever get the opportunity to visit I recommend you grab it with both hands!

Jessica (age 16)

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