PortAventura Theme Park

Today we all woke excited at what awaited, we were heading to PortAventura, Barcelona's largest theme park. We had a hearty breakfast nice and early so we could begin our day as soon as possible. After breakfast, we headed to the subway and made our way to the central train station, where we then took an hour and a half train ride to the theme park. On arrival we were all excited and amazed by the roller coasters and other rides that we saw. We couldn't wait to experience them. After sorting our tickets and fast passes, we wasted no time and went on our first ride. We went on an array of different rides all providing their own thrill and excitement. One thing we learned today was that all of us students are major thrill seekers, as well as Ms Connor, who did not hesitate to get on any of the rides. After an amazing action packed day we began our train journey back to the hotel. It appeared that we were all exhausted as we were all hit with a bought of tiredness and slept the entire back to Barcelona. We finished our day with a beautiful meal at the hotel. We then spent some time reflecting on how fortunate we all are to have embarked on this journey and how grateful we are for our families who made it all possible. With our journey home only one sleep away we all feel very grateful to have ended our trip with such an amazing experience. We are all excited to see our families and can't wait for what tomorrow brings. 

Barcelona- day 2

Tuesday April 18,

Today started off well with a 9:00 am sleep in that we all needed after a long day before. It was the first time we had a choice of bacon and eggs, for breakfast in a while, which was great.
 After breakfast we headed out so we could catch the subway to the Miro Foundation, exhibiting mainly abstract and surrealist work from Joan Miro, and Alexander Calder, which was enlightening and enjoyable. After about an hour and a half of exploring the art museum we sat down at the cafe and had some lunch.
 A good coffee later we left to catch the subway again and headed for the Sagrada Familia. En route we stopped off to admire Gaudi's other magnificent building the "Casa Battlo", a very decorative Art Deco themed building with a colourfully tiled roof. 
As we got closer to the Sagrada Familia we weren't sure what to expect. We crossed a small park and suddenly the trees parted and we could see the grandeur and beauty of Gaudis greatest work.  We had a look around for a couple hours learning about its history and admiring the huge Cathedral that is even more impressive on the inside that it is on the outside. It is incredibly complex and unlike anything else we had ever seen, it is also unfinished, having been continually built from 1882. When completed it will stand at 170 metres at its highest bell tower. There was a small area for prayer behind the crypt which we made use of before heading back into town. 
By then we were all famished so we traveled back on the subway where we had some dinner at the spectacular Barcelona Markets before returning home to prepare for the following day's visit to the theme park.
 

Santiago to Barcelona

Today we journeyed to the last destination on our trip, Barcelona. We were up and ready to go to the airport by 6:30am, we were all very excited about heading to Barcelona. Things went smoothly at the airport and our short one and a half hour plane flight seemed to go by in no time.

 Upon arrival in Barcelona we were all amazed by the architecture and atmosphere that we experienced. We went to get lunch at a small sandwich shop and then checked into our hotel rooms. We made our way to Barcelona Cathedral and had a look at the stunning structure of the building and went inside a small area for some quiet reflection, after this we headed to explore the gothic quarter in the town. Later we took a visit to Palau Guell,  an amazing metal building designed by Spanish architect and artist Gaudí, the structure incorporating his modern and individually distinctive style. This building was quite different to any of his other designs before. Tomorrow we will be seeing some more of Gaudí's work as we head to the famous La Sagrada Familia. We roamed the streets and shopped at some of the amazing places here in Barcelona and also explored some other areas of the town. After a long day we were all very tired so we got dinner early, at a beautiful pizzeria overlooking La Ramblas, then headed back to our hotels for an early night. We are all very excited for our next few days in Barcelona and can't wait to explore more of this beautiful city. 


 

EASTER IN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA

Today is Easter Sunday. This day marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is a religious celebration widely celebrated around the world. We started our morning by receiving letters from our families - this was organised by the wonderful Mrs Wilson. We also received some chocolates. We attended Mass at the Cathedral with many traditions different to those in Australia such as the swinging of the bonufumeiro, the huge incense burner, The Mass was such a wonderful experience as we celebrated with the overflowing gathering of people; including fellow pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago. After the Mass the students and staff were given the afternoon  to explore Santiago de Compostela and to do some shopping. In the late afternoon everyone gathered together and the students were surprised with an Easter egg hunt which was held in the garden at the hotel; Ms Connor was the overall champion. Following the Easter egg hunt everyone - including guests, Mr and Mrs Collins - shared a joint meal on a lovely final night in Santiago de Compostela. Overall it was an incredible Easter Sunday even though we all missed our families back at home.
 

Santiago de Compostela Day 2

We had an enjoyable late start to our second day in Santiago de Compostela. Our first stop was to to the Cathedral opposite our hotel. The Hotel Hospederia was originally a part of the Benedictine Monastery where Rosendo Salvado trained and became a Monk. This was before he travelled to Australia to start his work with the Aboriginal people in New Norcia. As we walked through the beautiful cathedral, we visited the crypt where St. James was buried as well as  many other sections of the church in remembrance of Saints along with a memorial to Pope John Paul 11 and Pope Benedict XVl. After visiting the Cathedral, we then moved on to the old church of the Monastery. We viewed the collection of holy art along with old printing equipment and stamps. Whilst exploring the interior of the Monastery, we were able to understand just how old the features were and that it dated back to the twelfth century. It was interesting to appreciate that Salvado, one of our schools house patrons, walked the halls of the Monastery that we visited today.  After a short lunch break, we went back to the Cathedral for our roof top tour. It was absolutely amazing to be able to understand the history of the Cathedral and why it was built in the first place. It is understood, that the remains of St. James were buried under the site of the Cathedral after he was beheaded in Jerusalem. The remains were abandoned from the third century until 814 AD where hermit Pelagius rediscovered the tomb after following a star in the night sky. The hermit then told the King at the time, and he ordered a church to be built on top of the remains. King Alfonso was the first pilgrim to walk to the shrine of St. James which is amazing to think that having also walked the Portuguese Way, we too have become part of history that is pilgrimage,  centered around the Way of St. James. 

Waking into Santiago de Compostella

Today was our last day of walking.  On our first day of our pilgrimage we left Tui and today we walked into Santiago De Compestella. It's been a long and rewarding journey. We ventured from Padroń in the morning, beginning Good Friday with the start of the stations of the cross. As we walked along the Camino we also followed Jesus's journey to his crucifixion. Each step of the way we reflected on Jesus's life, teachings and what we can learn from his crucifixion. The walk was 26 kilometres and was the hardest part of the Camino, as our feet were sore and we were all exhausted from the previous 5 days. However, each of us was able to push through as we thought about arriving at Santiago De Compestella and how accomplished we would feel after. Along the walk we stopped at numerous holy places and continued the stations of the cross. When  we arrived in Santiago and we saw the cathedral we all cheered and each of us felt overjoyed and moved, as we finished this long journey together. While the Camino was hard, exhausting, had its ups and down, it was all worth it for that feeling at the end of being proud and encouraged to face bigger challenges. We finished our day with the presentation of our Compostella and our prayer, the last line finalising our Camino, “So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy." 


The road to Compestella was tiring and exhausting, but we came out the other end of it enriched and accomplisched. We spent the night relaxing and excited for the next few days exploring Santiago. 

 



Buen Camino Peregrinos de HCC!
Enjoy your arrival at the end of your Camino. Have a good and deserved rest in the beautiful Santiago de Compostela.

Holy Thursday - Caldas de Reis to Padron

Today's walk has certainly been different from others. The woods we walked through were full of life and echoing with birds and other animals. Though it was difficult to begin the walk in the morning, after putting ourselves in the mindset of "we could do it" it seemed easy and achievable. The walk seemed bearable even after a poor student was stung by a bee and we resorted to ice cream as pain relief. Arriving into the town, we were eager to just rest but after being told we'd get the chance to see the Easter procession, we became intrigued by the concept. The procession began with men in purple robes and masks parading the streets and banging their drums. The band left us in a state of amazement as to how precise everyone was and the beautiful cross they carried. The drums echoed through the streets and after the cross passed, the music transitioned to a soft and welcoming beat. Though at first it was rather intimidating to be in their midst, I felt as if we got lost in the crowd of people and just became part of the community. To end an exciting day, the group participated in a well prepared liturgy from Mrs Nolan which capped off an amazing spiritual day. 

Day Four Caldas de Reis

Today started with breakfast at 7.30am and the commencement of our walk at 8.30am. As always our day started with the Pilgrim's Prayer. The day was cold but soon warmed up. Though the day was long it was not as difficult as our walk on day 2. We witnessed some amazing architecture and wonders of nature along the way. During our daily 20 minutes of silence it was a great opportunity to reflect on the experience so far. The pleasure and the pain as well as the great sense of achievement. We had many enjoyable moments with interesting conversation with each of the group members. There is always a sense of great excitement as our hotel comes into sight. As always we paused to give thanks to God for bringing us safely to our destination. A shared meal is always a fitting end to the day. It was then back to the hotel for our final reflection on our walk.

Day 3 Camino : Arcade to Pontevedra

On the third day of our Camino we officially hit the half way mark of our journey. We awoke to a beautiful view of Arcade after a long 26K walk yesterday. After breakfast we headed over to the beautiful church across from our hotel and prayed for a safe journey. We began our Camino with high spirits and heads held high.

 As we continued our journey we encountered many pilgrims who were also undertaking the same journey as us, and although there was language barrier between us all, we were able to be connected to them through the simple phrase 'Bon Camino' (good journey). We encountered our first Australian pilgrims today who were from Melbourne and Brisbane, also here to undertake the journey. It was nice to see people as far from home as us for the same purpose. 

The scenery we saw today was different to anything we had seen before. The amazing green outskirts and farms that we walked through were more rural than the previous walks on this journey and it was amazing to see the countryside. 

As we reached Pontevedra we decided to reflect on our journey so far and reflected on what we have learned about ourselves, what we are grateful for on this journey and what has surprised us. We realised that we have all experienced personal growth and have new outlooks. We were amazed by the architecture in the town, the resilience we maintained on today's walk and the shops that Pontevedra offered. We ended today's journey by exploring the town and doing some shopping. We are excited for what tomorrow's journey will bring as well as the new experiences and memories that will be made.

 

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