It was a wild and windy morning and... let’s face it... ridiculously early, as seven intrepid explorers met at Appleby Primary School. Storm Freya May have been flexing her muscles but it was not going to stand in the way of Appleby Primary School’s international travellers.
The taxi buzzed with excitement as we made our way to Manchester Airport. What would the week bring? What would our hotel be like? Where were the other children participating coming from? Would we have time for a full English breakfast before boarding the plane? - that last one was mainly the headteacher whose tummy had taken on a distinct rumble somewhere south of Lancaster!
It was not long before we were boarding the plane and taking to the skies. The girls chatted happily as they speculated about the week whilst searching intently for Wally. The boys slept long and deeply. It seemed only moments before the pilot began his decent into Sofia and four excited children looked gleefully from the windows at the city and mountains below.
Once through passport control, and with baggage collected, we were soon zipping though busy city traffic towards our hotel. The children we excited to point out the interesting landmarks along the way.
Our hotel is situated a couple of metro stops from the city centre and the children were thrilled to explore their rooms and - not quite so thrilled - to unpack. After a quick lunch, we met up with the teachers and children from Portugal and headed into the city centre on the metro. For one of our party it was the first time on an underground train and a great new experience.
We emerged in the bustling heart of the stunning city and, whilst our Portuguese friends headed off in search of lunch, we took the opportunity to explore. We visited the Parliament Square with its large and imposing facade and explored a lovely garden full of sculptures and modern art. The highlight of the afternoon was a visit to the amazing Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its enormous golden dome.
As the sun began to set it was time to head back to the hotel for dinner. Here we met up with more new friends - this time from Italy. We were really pleased that the children were quick to try new foods - though the grilled chicken with cornflake coating was not quite the culinary delight it promised to be. Nonetheless, it was four full and tired children that settled down to bed a few moments ago.
Today has been an absolute honour and thrill to be part of and we are all excited to spend our first day in school tomorrow.