The sun came out to greet us… ¡Bienvenidos a España! We all agree winter has been long and harsh, and believe me when I say Spain hasn’t had a good one either. So how lucky it is to time our trip to Spain with the first week of proper Spanish spring weather.
But first things first, our journey. We set off from a very hot Devon, so hot in fact that our driver had to stop to open the roof air vents! We went through security without issues only to find out that our flight was delayed. Not a major problem when you have a bunch of students willing to cooperate and be generally great. By some bizarre kind of luck the 4 nervous flyers ended sitting together, so those around had their work cut out trying to distract them.
The coach journey to Ávila was fast and smooth and before we knew it we had the impressive medieval wall welcoming us. As every year, that’s the precise moment when they all become quiet and anxious about meeting the families they’re staying with. But, again as every year, that only lasts a few minutes, because as soon as we arrive and they see their Spanish friends their faces fill with joy.
This morning we had lots of happy and content students, they’ve all seemed to have settled in remarkably quick. And without any fuss, off we went to Madrid. Remains of the recent snow falls waved as we passed by the mountains north of Madrid and we started descending -Ávila is the highest capital of province in Spain- and the temperature started raising. An hour and a half later we were entering the Real Madrid stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, and commencing our tour of the trophies rooms and other fascinating areas, like the changing rooms. I have to confess that I always take great delight in telling the students, with a straight face, “that’s the urinal that Ronaldo uses” (I can’t help myself!). They never seem impressed…
At lunch time we headed off towards Madrid’s theme park, which sits in the beautiful Casa de Campo, a big forestry park in the outskirts of Madrid. They all put a thick layer of sun cream on and woosh! before we could count to three they were already up on some crazy ride.
We’re on our way back to Ávila now, to begin the weekend with our families. Lots of fun stuff has been planned and they’re all buzzing. I can’t wait to hear all about it on Monday!
On our last full day, we went to the Puys du Fou. If you’ve never been before, it’s well worth a visit should you even find yourself in the area, but it’s hard to explain in words what it’s like. Think theme park, but instead of rides, there are shows with stuntmen, all representing different periods of French history.
Despite the huge amounts of walking involved, the kids seemed to really enjoy it. They wandered around in groups, so you’ll have to see their photos to see where they went and what they each saw, but to give you an idea, this is what it looked like from the teachers’ perspective!
First there was the birds show, where birds came swooping down mere centimetres from our heads!
Then the Vikings attached a village where a wedding was being held!
We then saw a show about the four musketeers and another about the war of Vendée (the area of France where the park is located), before travelling back to the time of the Romans…
Then we sprung forward to the 15th century and the story of Jeanne d’Arc, complete with stunts on horses and the sacking of a castle by the English (thwarted, of course, by the strong and agile Frenchmen – and women!)
It was a great day and a great way to end our time in France. Until next time!
So after what seems to have been a great weekend spent with families, lundi morning came round très vite indeed and we all found ourselves back at the collège for the day.
The students observed the first trois cours of the journée, then had a bit of time after lunch to fill out their booklets.
Most students had leur déjeuner in the school cantine, though a few went home to eat with their correspondant. Interesting to see how very different school dinners are over here- take a look!
In the afternoon, there was a session of EPS during which the children all played ultimate frisbee, a sport which the French students seemed more used to than our guys. The heat (27 degrees, we later found out!) didn’t help, but they all had a go!
The French students had organised a picnic for the English students after school, so the majority of them did that in the evening and the feedback was very positive!
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After a very smooth first evening, with only a few issues surrounding wifi, vendredi’s 8.30 bell rings and there they are back safe, sound and smiling. Straight away we were herded on to le car, where there was plenty of talk about what was eaten for le dîner et le petit-déjeuner, and the difference between French and British houses. There was also a general sense of amazement over the consumption of Nutella over here- in some families each person has their very own, labelled pot of Nutella!
A short hour later we arrived in Nantes. A bit of background for those who might not be familiar with Nantes. It’s the 6th largest city in France, and used to be the capitol of Brittany until Napoleon restructured France, separating Nantes from the Bretons. After a short tour of le château and the cobbled rues of old Nantes, the students had an hour of free-time to do a bit of shopping and explore.
We then met up to go to the Machine de L’île, a mixture of fantastic mechanical oversized models of animals. Giant araignée, ants, oiseaux, caterpillars, et bien sûr l’éléphant! The children got to have a go on le carousel and some even got to operate some of the models.
We then found a park in Nantes and spent an hour enjoying un pique-nique relaxing and having fun in the sun. All in all a great day was had by all!
Le weekend is being spent avec la famille so we will post updates on what they did on lundi! Bon weekend!