Today was a day spent traveling on the bus as we made our way to Barcelona. We did have the opportunity to stop in Zaragoza and see the beautiful Basílica del Pilar. There has been a church of some sort on this site since 40 A.D. when the Virgin Mary appeared before St. James and instructed him to build a chapel for her. Since then, numerous churches have been built and destroyed, though the latest, begun in the 16th century, remains intact. As we approached the cathedral, Jesus explained to us the meaning behind the colored tiles on the roof – white for purity, etc. Once inside, Jesus showed us the holes in the ceiling from when two bombs were dropped on the basilica during the Spanish Civil War. Miraculously, neither bomb exploded. We then made our way through the church, careful not to disturb the locals celebrating Mass. Tradition holds that visitors kiss the column of jasper given to St. James by Mary, so naturally, the Catholics among us knelt and did just that.
After leaving the church, we met up with my college friend, Susana, and her wife. They very kindly treated the entire group to lunch at a local tapas bar. I was so happy to catch up with Susana, as I had not seen her since I visited her in London in 1998! Sadly, we only had an hour and a half for 12 years of catching up… then it was back on the bus for another four hours.
Tonight we had dinner in the outskirts of Barcelona and then retired to the hotel. While the kids used Kendra’s laptop to catch up on Facebook and emails, Jenn, Kendra, Jesus, and two of the chaperones from the Pennsylvania group grabbed some coffee at a local café. When we returned to the hotel, we taught the kids how to play Egyptian Ratscrew, a fast-paced card game.
Tomorrow we spend the day exploring Barcelona!