Pobalscoil Neasáin in Portugal – Gold Adventure Journey | Gaisce Stories

Pobalscoil Neasáin in Portugal – Gold Adventure Journey

President’s Award Leader, Barry Caulfield:

The Camino is something that we try do with our Gold participants every year. This is our third trip abroad with a gold group and our first in 3 years due to covid disruption. This year our trip took us to Porto in Portugal, with the aim to walk 100km north in the direction of Santiago de Compostela.

We had 14 6th year students this year from different social circles within the school. As always its amazing to see how the students who would never cross paths in a school setting are suddenly engulfed in this journey this all starts in the planning of the trip in the small meetings prior to departure.

During the walk that you see the barriers really break down, sitting having lunch, a coffee, or even a rest together, and at night when they\’re cooking for each other and sitting around discussing their injuries, blisters and where hurts as we’re sat in a kitchen hostel chatting over a packet of the local confectionery.

At the end the sense of relief as well as achievement sinks in, where we as teachers think they are delighted to be done, however the sadness that its over and the questions of can we come with you next year to finish it begins. For some this is the only adventure they have or will be on however for the majority this experience will spark a want to travel and see what the rest of the world has to offer.

Gold Award Participant, Eimear:

We went to Portugal during the February midterm to complete our Gold Gaisce Adventure Journey and it was an amazing experience. We got to see so many amazing views, meet loads of interesting people, and our group grew so much closer as friends. Even when everything ached, we encouraged each other to push through and made it the 100km across the Camino trail. Overall, it was one of the best trips I’ve been on, and it was an unforgettable experience.

Gold Award Participant:

When 6th year started, we all gathered for the first time to properly discuss the Camino we would go on. We had been looking forward to it since we started our Bronze Award all the way back when Covid was still in its early days but it was finally time to organise the trip.

We all had places we wanted to visit, Spain, Italy, or France but we finally decided to go to Portugal as one of us used to live there and very little of us had previously visited the country. The next few months were filled with anticipation as we waited for the trip to begin. The mock exams flew by and then, on the first Monday after the mocks we met up at Dublin airport to begin our adventure.

Many of us had been getting nervous on the final few days before the trip, some of us had never been abroad alone, some of us had never stayed in a hostel before and none of us had walked a Camino before. It was a new experience for everyone.

The plane journey was full of excitement, but it was only when we landed in Porto and read the first few words of Portuguese that our Camino trip truly began. We went to the hostel to drop off our bags before exploring the city of Porto. Because of Covid cancelling many of our TY trips it was the first time we were all out together as a group and we really enjoyed ourselves.

After shopping we made pasta in the hostels kitchen and enjoyed it together in the garden. We slept early the first night as there was a long walk in the morning.

The next few days were roughly the same, wake up, eat breakfast, walk 20-30km, explore the city/town, and finish off the night together in the shared community areas but each day was wonderfully different in its own way because of the new places, experiences, and scenery.

On the last day we returned to Porto by train so we could spend the day exploring the parts of the city we missed on the first day, of which there was a lot. To symbolise the last night of our trip we all got take away pizza and spent the last few hours of our night eating and having fun in the community garden.

Looking back on our trip, which unfortunately already ended around a month ago, many of us can say it was the most fun we have ever had over a few days. It was an experience we will never forget and the new friendships we made on the trip will last a lifetime, hopefully the blisters won’t.

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