Spain Discovery: Update #1

Dear Friends and Families,

This last Thursday morning, we all finally came together as a group, arriving in El Prat Barcelona Airport from, quite literally, all corners of the world! The excitement was electric and far exuded the exhaustion from hours of flying across time zones. We had just begun and we’re about to get right into it!

First up, we headed straight off to Gaudi’s famous Park Güell to have a look around, take some pictures with new friends, all the while overlooking one of the most picturesque views of the city. We quickly met up and headed off for some lunch and to the breathtaking Sagada Familia church, an absolute architectural masterpiece, already 135 years in the making and still incomplete. The church was incredible to see and learn about, certainly one of the most remarkable buildings accessible today.

Tired, but inspired, we packed back into the tour bus, introductions in full force along the way. Next up was a dinner picnic up on top of Montjuic – literally translating to the Mountain of Jews. Once fed and full, we all formally introduced ourselves through a variety of name games and bonding programs, before heading back down on the cable car while watching our first Spanish sunset. What a busy exciting day! All that was left was to head off to our hotel, unpack and call it a night.

After an early wake up and a solid breakfast, we made our way off the the Monserrat Monastery Mountain for a morning of hiking. The mountaintop views were remarkable and it was really quite amazing to see Barcelona’s surrounding areas through such a natural lens – a stark contrast to the city context. Thereafter we headed back into town for some lunch on the Barceloneta promenade and the option to spend some time out on the beautiful beach – well deserved relaxation after a good morning of climbing.

This first full day happened to be on Friday (!) and after some Shabbat preparation we partook in a guided tour of one of the oldest synagogues in Spain – a hidden gem semi-submerged below the new raised street level. This synagogue has not functioned consistently since the Spanish Inquisition and so we then headed over to the Barcelona Chabad to engage in a Friday night service. Shabbat dinner was then shared with the Chabad community, where we were able to experience a whole new Jewish culture and manner of celebrating Shabbat. Friday night then ended with a slow walk back to the hotel, laughing and sharing stories all along the way.

After a late wake up and breakfast, Saturday morning began with a Judaism-based activity in a beautiful urban park on the way to the Chabad community. We had a Shabbat lunch engaging with the community again, before walking back to the hotel. After an early afternoon siesta, we were met by a walking guide to take us through the old gothic quarter, informing us about so many hidden intricacies within the ancient city. Our guide then dropped us off to have a delicious and authentic tapas dinner in the centre of the city hubbub. We finished off our night wandering through the shops and cafés lining the famous La Ramblas, watching the street performers and generally taking in the epitome of bustle of the Catalan capital.

On the way back to the hotel, we again stopped off in a park for a havdallah service, ending off the Shabbat and another great day! Off to bed as we were all set to head out nice and early the following morning to Grenada. Everything ran smoothly and this morning we left Barcelona, beginning the next chapter of our Spanish adventure. We cannot wait to see what the next few days hold in store for us!

More soon… !

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