Today is our last day in Spain and Europe. We started out with breakfast at the apartment, a variety of fruit, baked goods, and other breakfasty stuff. Then we walked Las Ramblas, where I purchased a pack of SPANISH POKÉMON CARDS!!!!!! When I was younger my brother, sister, and I all collected Pokémon cards, so I thought it would be cool to get some Spanish ones. After walking the entire Ramblas, we arrived at a Christopher Columbus monument. The pillared statue of Columbus was surrounded by lion statues in various poses, some of which reminded us of our dog Fresca. We backed away from the monument, so my siblings and I could pose like the explorer for a photo. We then tried to find a way down to the Mediterranean, but we couldn’t, so we continued on our way to the Sagrada Familia. The inside of the church is so different from the outside. The lighting on the inside of the church is amazing; the sun shines through rainbow abstract stained glass to paint colors on the white walls. The columns look like trees, and the ceiling has ornate decorations. Some of the towers on the outside are tipped with mosaics. We took an elevator up one of the towers, walked across a bridge to another tower, and climbed a spiral staircase back down. We then went to the Barcelona History Museum and wandered the excavation of Roman and other ruins below the museum. After two hours of exploring ruins, we went to the beach. The sand is actually made of small rocks. At first Anna and I only intended to get our feet wet, but then we saw cool rocks deeper in the sea. Next thing we knew, we were soaking wet up to our waists. This was fun at first, but then we started walking again. We ate our last supper in Europe at a restaurant just off the beach. I had frankfurters, fries and an egg.
Time for our final destination before home, Barcelona, Spain. After a short 3 hr drive, we arrived. We’re staying in a guest house similar to a hostel. It’s really nice. Since it was really early, we walked 40 min to visit Park Güell. The architecture is so unique! It is so beautiful, the curling form of the benches, the intricate mosaics, and flow of the buildings. The engineering of draining rainwater from the benches to run the fountains is so well thought out. Dinner was some of the better food of the trip, a beef burrito with chips, guacamole, and a slushy. Before leaving the park, I got a pin for my hat and a pen decorated with mosaics. On the walk back to our apartment, we stopped at two buildings that Gaudi designed and admired them. Then we came back to our apartment and walked up seven flights to get to our room.
Turns out people grow tobacco in Andorra. Again we walked to Ordino to get lunch. On the walk back we passed a field for the 6th time, we figured out an answer to what the plants were - tobacco. It was surprising that the only thing guarding it was a small electric fence around the perimeter. For a lack of anything more fun to do, we went back to the pool. A random kid played monkey in the middle with us. At first I didn’t notice any topless women, but then I saw a couple. Turns out women can go topless, guys can wear speedos, but I can’t wear swimming trunks that go down to my knees. One of the pool workers yelled at me for wearing too long swimming trunks. Good thing we were ready to leave any way. Anna, my dad, and I hiked back to Ordino to buy hatpins for our German Alpine hats.
After breakfast and lunch, my parents took Anna and I to the swimming pool. As the pool was like the type you’d have in your backyard, Anna and I rummaged around the rental house to find things we could play with in the pool. We found a floaty ring for a toy, a plastic spoon, a ball, and two plastic figures from our backpacks. Since the town of La Massana is only about 1 km away, we walked to the pool. Once we paid for our tickets, we jumped in. The water was very cold, which felt nice in the heat of the day. However, that meant Anna got cold a lot. There was a detail that I didn’t notice until my mom mentioned it. Swim tops were optional for women. It was weird, but I tried not to focus on it. After a nice - not pig foot - dinner at home, we watched a movie and some TV shows and went to bed.
Today my family and I (except for my dad, because he is running) went to VallNord, which is similar to our ski resort, Purgatory, during summer. Some of the activities were zip lining, downhill karts, archery, some games made out of wood, and mountain biking. The zip line was fairly short, and the landing was difficult as you stopped below the landing area. The downhill karts were really fun; gravity pulled us down a bumpy and steep hill. The archery was cool, because it was the first time I shot a recurve bow. One wooden game in particular was great. The game included a slanted wall with holes in it, and pulling a ball up the wall without letting it fall through. The mountain biking was almost just like Colorado, except I didn’t have my normal gear, helmet, gloves, ect.; the bike I’m used to; and my friends. Afterwards, my mom, Anna, Philip, and I were going to by groceries, but it was siesta time. I’ve only been here two days, but siesta time is very annoying. Everything closes from noon until 4:00. So far it seams the only thing you buy in bulk here is cigarettes. In Andorra you can by an 800 pack of cigarettes with a lighter. Cigarettes are also on the first aisle you walk down when you enter the groceries store, while Uno cards are locked up behind the cashier.
Not much happened today. Anna and I had Crossy Road contests, kicked a ball around, and watched High School Musical 3 for the second time of the trip. Later we walked to Ordino, the neighboring village, so my dad could check in for his ultratrail run. Then we went to a miniature museum. There was sculptures and paintings on needle eyes, grains of rice and halves of apple seeds. The museum also had a lot of nesting dolls, which were beautiful. Next, we waited around till 7:00 for dinner. To kill that time, we wandered until we found a park, where Anna and I goofed off on for awhile. The restaurant didn’t take dinner orders until 7:30. I decided to order nachos, big mistake. I didn’t get the nachos until 7:50, ten minutes after the rest of my family all had food. Turns out the nachos were also not very good. Seriously how long does it take to make horrible nachos? At least we got two plastic cups, so Anna and I can kill some time learning the cup song.
Next stop Andorra. After three hours in the car driving through the winding roads of the French Pyrenees, I’m so glad I don’t get carsick. While my brother had to sleep or stare at the horizon the entire time, I was reading and playing some very meaningful and productive games such as Crossy Road, Splashy Cats, and Angry Birds. At one point during the drive, I saw some white rocks and sheep on the side of a mountain. It was also really foggy on parts, which was really fun. Near the end of the drive, we went into a tunnel on a foggy side and came out into the sun. So far Andorra isn’t that bad, it reminds me of Colorado. We couldn’t get into our apartment until 3:00, so we wandered the town and bought some groceries. After parking the car in the parking garage below the building, we tried to get into the apartment, but we left the keys down in the car. This wouldn’t have been that big of a problem, except you can’t get into the garage without the key. Thirty minutes later we finally got in when someone else opened the garage. This place is pretty much a one-story house; it has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one big main space, and WiFi! Today’s cultural immersion food for me was spelt cakes with USA made peanut butter. Really getting a sense of the culture with that selection.
Today we toured the medieval city of Carcassonne in France. The city was fully equipped with two walls that completely enclosed the town, a moat, a castle, and a weaponry store. Some parts of the inner wall were Roman, and it was interesting to the differences in architecture. We walked along both walls, toured the castle and town, and watched a medieval show with fencing, jousting and trick riding. The show was really fun, even though the dialog was only in French. One actress took down an actor full on Black Widow style in a huge fight sequence. As our apartment has no WiFi, we stopped near the restaurant we ate at last night to borrow theirs. There was an open-air market in the square so we also looked around and listened to the music. Anna and I bought silly balloon figures filled with flour, which makes them sculpt-able. Before we walked back to our apartment, we went to the bridge to feed some ducks.
This afternoon was probably the coolest part of the trip, not literally though. On our way to Limoux, France, we visited Le Pont Du Gard, the second tallest Roman structure behind the Coliseum by only about 6 ft. This amazing structure was built strictly for technically use, not beauty. However, its elegant arches are very aesthetically pleasing. Pont Du Gard does not refer to the aquaduct, but to the bridge used to carry the aquaduct over the river valley. After this epic structure, Limoux is rather ordinary. Like from the scene from Pink Panther, French people actually pronounce hamburger like Inspector Clouseau. I ate a hamburger in France, because I’m not a fan of French food, except for their pastries, after my pig leg/bacon experience.
French pastries in Lyon are really good like in most of France. We stopped to see the ancient Roman theaters of the city, but again I was disappointed. Shamefully, the theaters were stuffed with modern equipment to accommodate modern day concerts or shows. Next to the ruined ruins was a pretty neat museum called the Gallo-Roman Museum. The best artifacts were beautiful Roman mosaics. The coolest museum was the Cinema and Miniature Museum. It housed various movie props and costumes, such as Harry Potter’s wand, a puppet used in Jaws, and The Thing’s costume from the 2007 Fantastic Four. Never trust the French’s use of the word bacon. It can turn out to be a fatty piece of ham with pig skin still on it.