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Day 9: Segovia
Roman Aqueduct. Completed in the 1st Century. No mortar or cement in the original structure.
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Below is the church where Isabela was crowned Queen of Castilla in the 15th Century

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Part of the Alcázar, which was one of the residences of Ferdinand and Isabella (los Reyes Católicos Fernando e Isabela)

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It was uncharacteristically cold in Spain for the majority of the trip! This wiki-worthy huddle was an attempt to warm up... I told our guides it was our fault. We brought Minnesota weather with us.

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At the end of the last group trip in Spain! Now, we just have to get them to the airport, on the right planes, then on the bus, and we're done!

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Day 8: Toledo

Our apartments are close to Puerta del Sol. Today, before we left for Toledo, we had a rare opportunity to see an almost deserted Puerta del Sol, and we were able to get a group picture in front of "El oso y el madroño", a 20th Century statue of a symbol of Madrid that dates back the the 14th Century.

For more about Puerta del Sol, wikipedia has a pretty good run-down.
PUERTA DEL SOL
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Toledo:
We went to Mass today in a small chapel in the Cathedral. The "Rito mozárabe" is a 7th Century Visigothic Christian rite that was almost completely replaced when the Roman rite became standard. It survived among Iberian Christians living under Moorish rule, and is still celebrated in Toledo.
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Day 7: Pictures coming later. Today: Train from Valencia to Madrid. Then: Puerta del Sol, Palacio Real, Parque del Retiro, el Prado, Plaza Mayor, then time for dinner and shopping. Everyone still OK. The group is amazing!

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Day 6
A little less hectic. We spent the morning at the beach, although it was quite a bit colder than we were hoping. Some students (and Father Pierce!) took off shoes and socks and waded in to the Mediterranean. After that, another view of the Mascleta (fireworks, etc.), then lunch, then home with the families.

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Day 5
Walking tour of the city of Valencia
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The highlight for some was playing the "Gulliver's Park." I'm not sure if you can tell, but the structure is Gulliver. Kids can climb up the ropes that attach Gulliver to the ground, slide down his sides, sit in his hand. The kids seemed to have a blast!
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Buñuelos y chocolate. Not exactly the same as "Churros y chocolate" but buñuelos are more typical of las Fallas, and these were freshly made, and excellent!

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We saw a number of men, women, and children in the traditional costumes of Valencia. Here is the group with a "Fallera", a woman dressed in the traditional gown and hairstyle.
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Every day at 14:00, they should off fireworks / noise makers that sound like artillery fire. María José was able to get us spaces on a balcony to watch the display. Below, some shots of how crowded it gets...

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Lunch afterwards. Paella Valenciana
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The group in front of the original Medieval towers of the walled city of Valencia. (The walls are pretty much gone, but the towers and gate remain.)

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Day 4
I have spent a couple days without access to wifi, so I apologize for the delay in the posts!

The group arrives at the LaSallian high school in Valencia!
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Sofía reconnects with old friends...
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Kevin meets his new "mom"
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Paige experiences the "cheek kiss" we had told them about...
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Lunch at the school for some... Some students were able to go home right away with their hosts because their host brother or sister was done with classes for the day. Others had to wait until 5:00, so we had lunch at the school, took a tour of the building, and then went to a little café across the street from the school.

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A little tired, I guess...

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Day 3
Evening (Also, scroll down. I've added new Montserrat pictures!)
Cena y Baile Flamenco
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Montserrat
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Napoleon's attacks destroyed all of Montserrat, except for this little corner, the only remains of the original abbey. Everything else is a reconstruction.

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Montserrat Boys Choir



"OK, now we're doing bus karaoke. Anyone who can sing better than Susana can go next." (There were no takers.)


Day 2
Sagrada Familia

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Irma, our tour guide explained the Cathedral. Ask your kids about chains, arches, and sand...

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La Sagrada Familia is the only church in the world with 3 facades. Ask your kids why, and what is on each of the three facades. Also, ask about the time it is taking to construct this Basilica, how Gaudi planned it, and what impact different generations are having.

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Parque Güell
Ask your kids about the history of this place. Why is it a park?

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Susana, our guide, talking about the influence nature had on Gaudi. This passageway is inspired by waves. She's showing us by surfing on it...

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Palacio Real: This was the King of Aragon's Palace. When Fernando de Aragón married Isabela de Castilla married, they unified two of the most important regions in the Peninsula, creating the powerful beginnings of a unified Spain.

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You can ask your kids about Roman, Gothic, Neo-Gothic and Modernist architecture and influence, and they might be able to tell you something. Pretty sure, however, they will mostly remember walking and walking and walking and walking and walking...

Absolute best quote of the trip so far: We were passing one of the shops in the Gothic Quarter, and our guide stopped us and pointed out that the shop has been in continuace operation selling the same product since 1761. Kelly Pairitz: "That candle shop is older than the United States."


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Day 1: Barcelona...
Just arrived, off the bus from the airport, before schelpping our bags about 10 blocks to go about a block and a half. Long story...
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Walking Las Ramblas
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Las Ramblas, a long pedestrian walkway. Notice the living statue!
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Barcelona. Beautiful!
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On La Golondrina!
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Walking to the Cathedral
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Quick snack before Mass
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Pintxos
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Cathedral, Just barely in time for Mass!

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Local time right now: 9:37, and all have rooms and are all checked in. Our apartments are clean and close to downtown, within walking distance of the Cathedral, la Plaza Real, and the metro. And, right around the down the street from a couple different small markets where we can buy groceries.

Tomorrow: Breakfast independently in rooms. Coffee Addicts meet for a Starbucks run at 9:00. Everyone else meets at 10:00 for reflection and devotion, followed by La Sagrada Familia. Lunch at 3:00 in el centro. Walking tour of downtown. Dinner and possible bus tour of the city.

So far, everyone is safe, healthy, and seems comfortable. We had an extraordinarily long day, but the group has been great to each other. Our flight attendant from Minneapolis to Amsterdam complimented me on how nice all my group was. She asked how old they were, and I said high school. She said she thought they might be college! Such mature kids!!! ;)



Well, we are on our way! We left on time from Fridley...
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and got to Rochester about two hours later...

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We are about to board for the flight to Amsterdam!

Change of hotel in Barcelona! We are now staying at "Boutique Bed and Breakfast"
Boutique Bed and Breakfast
Call us directly: +34.934.673.052
Calle Pau Claris 145, BarcelonaView on Map



Tentative Itinerary (subject to change, depending on most economical scheduling)


Itinerary in Valencia




Annotated agenda of the meeting on February 17. Contains explanations of what we discussed.



Father Pierce has a phone that will work in Spain. If you need to get ahold of someone in the group, call Father Pierce at
695 614 616

Facebook page: Click here to go to the Facebook Group TG-España 2013!

Packing list: Add to the list: a NECK WALLET!





Flight information:

Our current flight schedule is:
Saturday, March 9
Bus TG-Rochester 8:30 am
Rochester-Minneapolis DL 4547 12:40 pm 1:28 PM
Minneapolis-Rochester DL 258 3:20 pm 6:35 AM Sunday
Amsterdam-Barcelona KL 1665 8:00 am 10:15 AM

Madrid-JFK DL 127 10:30 am 1:50 pm
JFK-Minneapolis DL 3315 4:00 pm 6:35 pm
Minneapolis-Rochester DL 3616 7:25 pm 8:12 pm
Bus Rochester-TG 10:00??? pm