Friday, April 18, 2014

Our 6 days in Barcelona - told in 2 voices!

Our trip to Spain seems like years ago and also like yesterday. I guess that is good and bad. Basically this adventure had two different trips included. My trip (to the Microsoft Global Forum) and the trip to see Barcelona, Spain (mostly with Don, Carleigh and Katie)...though I did get some sightseeing in on the last day and a few other evenings.

Well...let's see if we can not bore you to death with long-winded explanations and just share our adventure through we go!

Each day is broken into parts - 1) Laura's Forum adventures  and 2) Don, Carleigh and Katie's sightseeing adventures  - enjoy!

Sunday - Departure Day:

Curtain Call of final production of The Little Mermaid -

off to Dulles Airport for 10:55 p.m. flight to Spain -

flying from Germany over the Alps on the way to Spain.

Awesome flight - extra leg room AND TV's in the seatbacks with all the movies/tv shows that you want FOR FREE!

After attempting to sleep we land in Germany, run the length of the airport and barely make our connection to Barcelona.

We land in Barcelona at 2:00 p.m. with NO luggage. :(  Our luggage didn't make the connection, but would be on the next flight and delivered to our hotel that night...we hope!

We are in SPAIN!

Monday - Day 1:

To the hotel, and then to the beach...
our hotel - the AC Barcelona Forum Mariott

the beach was a short 10 minute walk from the hotel

Had to explore the mall across the street and get some snacks for the hotel room - we also found dinner.

Luggage arrives and we go to sleep!

Tuesday - Day 2:

Forum Day 1 for Laura - opening keynotes, meeting educators from around the world and setting up my project for competition, also Jeans and Jersey night for Team USA at the opening evening reception.

my judging schedule for the two days

team USA

Sightseeing Day 1 for D,C,K: (Don did all the writing for these sightseeing days, as I have no idea what they did) :)

 Our trip was a little different than any trips that we have taken together.  Instead of weeks of planning and research, we just decided to get up, find a destination and go there.  We had some places in mind from research at home, but we really used our mornings to figure out where we were going.

On the first day, we headed out to the Barri Gotic  (Gothic Quarter).  Our first stop was the Cathedral Barcelona which was first started in1298.  That fact impressed us the most.  We walked around outside looking at the architecture and Gargoyles.  Then we headed inside to for a quiet moment to say some prayers for Katie's camera that she dropped on the sidewalk.


We liked the narrow streets, built long before cars were invented.

We found our way to La Boqueria, a huge open air market.  We saw and even tasted some of the local cuisine.  Our favorite had to be the fruit drinks. Our favorite was the Coconut Blackberry.  Our least was the Lime Mint.  There were a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. We sample some candied almonds and were grossed out by the fresh meat that still had its eyes.

Wednesday - Day 3: 

Forum Day 2 for Laura - more judging, and learning sessions, and more collaborating with worldwide educators

Sightseeing Day 2 for D,C,K:

Wednesday was a highlight for us as we all liked Casa Batllo.  It was finished in 1906 by Antoni Gaudi. The architecture was designed to resemble life under the sea with waves, circles  and different shades of blue. We made it all the way to the top to see the "Dragon" and the skyline of Barcelona.


Afterwards, we made it across town to see the Sagrada Familia, a cathedral, also by Gaudi, started in in 1883.  We were going to see this with Laura, so we just walked around the outside perimeter.

Evening - family trip to Olympic Park for dinner - Laura gets out and sees the first of Barcelona

family on the Barcelona Subway selfie

Thursday - Day4:

Forum Day 3 for Laura: Today is Learnathon Day! I meet my international teacher team and we work for 8 hours on a learning activity/project that we will share with judges tomorrow morning. What an incredible experience!!

teachers from Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland and USA collaborating and creating together

Sightseeing Day 3 for D,C,K:

We started on the Metro for what we did not know was going to be our day of hard travels.  We made it to the Museu d'Art de Catalunya.

 We climbed the four levels of steep stairs and visited the fountain at each level.  We finally made it to the top and the entrance of the museum. At this point, we were already tired and and ready to be done for the day.  However, we made our way inside and enjoyed the art work of Medieval Churches. We also walked around and gave our own titles to artwork and finished our adventure with a lone Picasso painting.

This was a hard earned lunch on the steps of the museum.

 After the museum, we had some important choices to make.  We could see the Castell de Montjuic at the top of the mountain from the museum.  GPS said it was a mile away, however, it was straight up.  Public transportation was a mile away also including a sky tram that would take us to the top.  Not knowing the cost of the ride in the tram and being far away from our trusty Metro,  we reluctantly decided to take the walk up.  We kept the castle in our sights and envied the people riding the tram.  We almost quit half way up, but that would have left us in the middle of nowhere.  Finally we reached the top and hugged and celebrated.  After that it was time to enjoy the castle.  A fortress first built in 1640, it got used throughout many different wars.

they found a WiFi hotspot!

We made it to the tram and really enjoyed the ride down to the Metro.

 Evening - Don and Laura go to an evening reception for Team USA! It is here that we got to meet the future Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools - Dr. Eric Williams and his wonderful wife and daughter.

 Friday - Day 5: 
 Katie and Don have the stomach flu - day of rest for them

Last day of Forum for Laura - Learnathon Judging and then Formal Gala event in evening with dress up dinner and then Awards Ceremony
Presenting our project to the international judges

 Prior  to the evening event, we had a closing keynote from the Prince of Spain - security was VERY heavy for this event!

His Royal Highness, the Prince of Spain

Then it was time to play dress up!

my name was announced and I've got the flag, making my way to the stage to accept the award
Our Learnathon Team got first runner up in our Category!

all of the USA winners
all of the winners
Carleigh and Mommy time - before the evening event, I had free time and Carleigh and I explored the mall and did some serious Spanish Clothes shopping!

selfie in front of the mall

serious shopping!
Katie was feeling better so we went back to the beach for a bit and let Don rest:

Saturday - Day 6:

Family touring day - the Microsoft Forum was over and the 4 Rahns were back together for the last day!

We started with Parc Guell - it was a beautiful day!

 We then took a VERY long walk to La Sagrada Familia - a beautiful church that is hundreds of years old and is still under construction from it's original time period.

We then headed back to the hotel after a very long, but fun day! We had to stop at the little store on the way to/from the Metro station near the hotel and by "Hola Gato."

Hola Gato waved to Don, Carleigh and Katie every day from the window of the store as they walked to and from the Metro station near our hotel. So..on our last walk back from the metro...on the last day...we walked into that store and purchased the cat. "Hola Gato" now sits on our table in our entryway for all who come into our house.

We were back to the hotel for our last dinner and then to the airport in the morning!

Sunday - Day 7 - heading home to Virginia!!

This day was not great, but we woke at 4:00 a.m. Spain time and were back in Virginia at 9:00 p.m. Virginia time - we had been awake and traveling for about 23 hours, but we were home.....Carleigh survived the day of travelling with her turn at the stomach flu. She was a real trooper!! I don't know if I could have held it together as well as she did through two very long plane trips and lots of walking through airports!!

...and we left 70 degrees and sun and landed in....SNOW!

For additional commentary and more pictures - here are links to Katie and Carleigh's blogs about our adventures, and also my teacher blog with more details about my adventure!

Arrival day: with Katie: Katie's blog with pictures

Day 2: with Katie: Katie's blog with pictures

Day 3 and 4 with Katie : Katie's blog with pictures

Carleigh's beginnings... Carleigh's blog

Laura's professional blog: What I Brought Home from Barcelona

So there it  a VERY LONG nutshell - our 6 days in Barcelona!

We had a great time, and now with spring break coming to a close - we are deep in the planning phase of our first big summer vacation - a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean. We will be visiting Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico in 63 days!!

  Stay tuned for more Rahn updates as we head into the home stretch of 6th and 8th grade and look forward to summer!