Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Barcelona, Spain





Today we began our first full day in Spain. We first went to the beach so the students could play beach volleyball and soccer with Spanish students. The plan was also for them to go swimming, but the jellyfish were so bad. Cary, Lynne and I walked along the beach and saw lots of jellyfish and Portguese Men of War. Yikes!






For lunch, the students made paella. It was really good! It is a rice dish that can be made with a variety of meats and vegetables. Ours was made with chicken, zucchini, green beans and carrots. It tasted a lot like our Spanish rice which is no surprise since we are in Spain!



Next, we began our city tour of Barcelona. I was surprised at how clean the city is and I loved all the Art Noveau buildings. We first stopped at Parc Guell which was Gaudi's dream neighborhood. He is the architect who's buildings look like something from Dr. Seuss. I do not know why people were surprised that the development never took off. Today it is a public park and huge tourist attraction.



Next we headed to La Sagrada Familia which was Gaudi's masterpiece. It is a cathedral that has the most eccentric design that I have ever seen! First, the very top has a Christmas tree on it! The front looks as if it is melting chocolate. Gaudi did not live to see his masterpiece completed and it is still not finished 80 years later. It is still a construction zone. What is really odd is that the side of the cathedral that they are working on now looks nothing like the rest of it.



We were able to have some free time on La Rambla, which is a pedestrian shopping street which leads to the sea. We walked all the way to the sea so that we could see the statue of Columbus and give our respects to the man who found our world. We also stopped at the same market that Andrew Zimmer from Bizarre Foods stopped at on his show! We saw some not so appetizing creatures!





We finished the day with dinner and a Flamenco Show. It was lots of fun! I even had to go on the stage and try it out. I was horrible!


Tomorrow will be the beginning of our homestay so it will be a few days before I post again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tautavel, France


Today was our last day in France. We spent the day at The Caune of Arago which is the oldest prehistoric site in Europe. On our way, we got a little lost in the mountains! Here we were in a huge charter bus on a steep one way road going up a very high mountain. I feared for my life several times! I took lots of pictures, but it is hard to visualize just how high up we were and how very close we were to the edge!




When we finally reached the top of the mountain, we were able to turn around and head back down! We when got down into the town of Tautavel, one older French man pointed up the mountain and began laughing as he spoke. I can only imagine that he was saying "We have never had a bus go up the mountain and return alive. Congratulations silly Americans!"






We had to climb a very high mountain to reach the Cave of Arago where they continue to excavate. It was a long hike so I had to use my best mountain goat skills! Once we reached the cave, we were told how a farmer looking for a lost animal discovered the cave in the 1960's. They talked a lot about evolution and how man had evolved. Since I believe in Creation and God, that did not apply to me.


Once we finished with the cave, we went back down and the kids swam in the river. It was actually a very pretty place. We also had a picnic lunch which consisted of egg and mayonnaise sandwiches and watermelon. They delivered it to us in a wheelbarrow!




We headed in Spain in the late afternoon and are now in the suburbs of Barcelona. Cary and I walked to a park across from our hotel. Tomorrow we have a full day of activities!



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Carcassonne, France



Today we were able to go to the third most visited city in France-- Carcassonne. It was here that the Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves was filmed in 1991. It is a medieval town that still has most of the original wall surrounding the city. We had lots of free time to explore the city.









Tonight is our last night in France as we will be headed to Spain in the morning.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Avignon, France







This afternoon we visited the Pope Palace in Avignon. It is the biggest Gothic Palace in all of Europe. I will have to say that it had not been well preserved and was very sparse on the inside. The sheer size was impressive though.

Rhone American Cemetery-France




This morning we visited the Rhone American Cemetery which is the final resting place for over 800 soldiers who lost their lives during World War II during the Allied Invasion of Southern France. It was a very nice cemetary and reminded me of how lucky we are in America to have men and women risk their lives each day for our freedoms.



Friday, June 25, 2010

Cannes/Nice



We started off this morning with a short bus trip to the famous city of Cannes. This is where the film festival takes place each May. We went to the theater where all the films are shown. I will say that I was expecting something a little fancier. It just looks like a convention center with a red carpet on the steps. I did pause for a picture of the red carpet and also took time to look at the many handprints that were stamped on the ground of famous actors and actresses. I found one handprint where the actor’s last name was Aimee.


The city itself was very nice and had a beautiful pier and harbor.

Next we headed to the town of Nice which is the third largest city in France and is considered the capital of the Cote d’Azur. It was beautiful. The beach seemed to go on for miles. The Mediterranean’s water is so blue and clear, but it was also so cold! We were told that by this time of year the water is usually warm, but there had been snowstorms in the French Alps just last week which made the water cooler.


We got to explore an outdoor market that had all kinds of good things to eat. I wish we had markets like that back home. It would be nice to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and cheeses each morning.



There was also a flower market filled with all kinds of beautiful flowers!

After lunch, the students were given the option to either go to the beach or have some free time in the city of Nice. All of the students but one went to the beach so Cary and I took Emily exploring. We decided to climb up the mountain to the waterfall. The waterfall was built where the ruins of an ancient fort had been. It was a long walk up, but the view was spectacular!





After the hike back down to the beach, we hung out there for a while. I decided to dip my feet in the Mediterranean. Big mistake! First of all, the French beaches are not sand but instead big rocks that do not feel good of your feet. Second, the rocks made it very slippery. Third, the waves were cold and came in too fast. I got my shorts soaking wet! However, I can say that I have been in the Mediterranean Sea even if it was just my feet!



Tonight we went bowling! There were not enough lanes for the leaders so we just watched. We also had dinner at the bowling alley. It was not very good. The bowling alley was a new experience in that it was two stories and even had an escalator. We were the only ones there though!