We'd had a wonderful time travelling the Continent together, but I had arranged to spend six weeks studying Spanish at the University of Barcelona's Summer School.
At the Ramon Llull hostel the study - bedrooms were clean and bare. The building itself was like a monastery, with high, dark ceilings and echoing flagstone corridors.
Most of the people doing the course (of all ages) were staying at the hostel.
The English and Italian contingents were the largest with a few Germans, Belgians, and Americans, and one Australian - me!
I had timed my arrival nicely for the official welcome that evening. A magnificent banquet was held at the town hall for all the summer students.
The Spanish go in for welcomes and farewells in grand style. We ate our way through six delicious courses and sampled several Spanish wines, being eloquently addressed by the Mayor.
Next morning I joined the elemental class and crept into what I hoped was the most inconspicuous seat. My Spanish was almost non-existent, and I wanted time before giving utterance.
However, our attractive lecturer said, "Ah, a new face! Please introduce yourself in Spanish." I stumbled out a few phrases.
The students all seemed very fluent to me. A nice Yorkshireman came up to me after class and said, "Ah was just like you first off, so don't worry."
Everyone very quickly got to know each other, and groups were formed for activities and sightseeing.
The University authorities arranged some excellent and reasonable day trips. One I took was to the ancient monastery of Monserrat. Set high in a fantastic lunar landscape in the mountains north of Barcelona, it is the legendary resting place of the Holy Grail.
The monks run a hotel, which is a favorite place for Spanish honeymoon couples. The young people go there, as they have for almost 1000 years, to receive the blessing of the famous Black Virgin of Monserrat.
Another fascinating trip was to the ancient town of Tarragona, 50 miles down the coast. The ruins date from Roman times, and there is a famous aqueduct. Today Tarragona is a wine-making town.
Mealtimes at the Ramon Llull were very good for practising what we'd learned. We had to present ourselves at the serving hatch and tell the three bright-eyed waitresses - all called Maria - what we wanted.
They understood no English, and took great interest in the student’s progress.
My first attempt - "Non muchos patatas," accompanied by pats on my stomach - caused spasms of giggles. They were suitably and loudly impressed when I graduated to describing the vegetables in detail.
About twice a week we had an excellent Spanish meal. Apart from that the cooks thought we would like our food cooked the English way, so they served vegetables almost boiled away. But every table had a bottle of wine with each meal.
At the head of the dining room was the "table of honor." Here sat the Director and his guests. Each day some students were invited to dine with him and converse in Spanish.
One gentleman with a magnificent mane of white hair was, I felt sure, a professor. He walked with dignity round the University, discoursing with friends in rapid Spanish.
I discovered later he was a retired American teacher, who came over each year for the summer. He had the room next to mine, and I could hear him reciting verbs well into the night.
An excellent thing about the course was that a student could set his own pace. Some made no bones about the fact they were there for a holiday. Others, like me, who really wanted to learn the language, worked at it.
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