The ball flew from the player’s foot, past the goalie, and – was it really? Yes! It was!
Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal! Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooal! The stand was filled with cheers. Some people sang the Sevilla FC anthem. In my view, at the top, was a section of people wearing green shirts. These people were supporting the other team, the rival, Real Betis, and were silent with anger. The Real Betis fans had been escorted into the stadium before the Sevilla FC fans, to prevent fights. Throughout the match and their entrance, the Real Betis fans were guarded by police, also to prevent fights. That moment, when the cheers rang out for Sevilla FC, it felt like everyone was united. The stands roared, no one sat, and all other activities, such as smoking, had been paused. It was a beautiful moment. Everyone was united. Sevilla FC ended up winning 1-0. Go Sevilla!
Quickly hopping out of the bus, we arrived in the very historic town of Carmona. Originally a Carthaginian colony, it was taken and incorporated into the Roman empire in the 2nd Punic War, about 200 years before Christ. We even got to see the Alcázar, though not for long. It has been turned into an expensive hotel. Sweet! We then strolled around. We found and explored a Roman necropolis, which you could also call a city of the dead or a freaking ancient cemetery. Yes. That’s right. A freaking ancient cemetery. Most of the graves were in clusters. This was evidence of the Christian impact on the site. Wow! Carmona was crazy!
Flamenco is a Spanish dance originating from the Gypsy countryside in Andalusia. The original song is of despair, but it has been adapted to be more happy. There are three main pillars of flamenco: guitar, singing, and dancing, but for me, there’s a forth pillar: clapping. Without a certain kind of clapping, flamenco collapses, just as it collapses without guitar, singing, or dancing. In a lot of places, a good dancer is only Gypsy, but in one small town, anyone can be a be good dancer. “A good dancer could be Portuguese!” someone once said. In the 1960s, José Monge Cruz started singing. He was an amazing singer from the start. He is called La Camaron de la Isla. In 1973, however, he became a hippie. Hence, he made an album of the pop version of flamenco music. This became very popular in the world in general, especially among Spanish Gypsies. There isn’t a Spanish Gypsy without an album from him. One night, my parents and I went to a flamenco festival. I didn’t get to see much, because I fell asleep, but what I did get to see was amazing. In my mind, the dances each had their own story. One dance, a woman was pulling off some impressive moves, and one man tried to copy her, but didn’t for long. One at a time, three other men showed up and did the same thing, before exiting. Flamenco is Andalusia. Flamenco is Seville. Flamenco is… magic.
The amazing Alcázar stood there before us, looming over us like a mountain looming over a couple of shrubs. My dad and I were at Real Alcázar in Seville, also called the Alcázar Seville. Which name do you prefer? I prefer Real Alcázar, because it sounds more Spanish and beautiful. Real Alcázar was ordered to be built in 1340, commissioned by King Alfonso XI, a Christian king, in Mudéjar style, a blending of Spanish Christian, and Moorish architecture, and used as the capital. Well, today it’s one of the Spanish royal family’s many houses. Yes. That’s right. One of the many. We got to look at some of the rooms used by the royal family. They all featured elaborate furniture and marble floors.
I had a lot of fun sliding my feet on the marble floors. Slide, slide, slide, slide! All of the rooms had the same carved wooden ceiling. One of them had an amazing view of the gardens. Another of them featured lots of tapestries, mainly of the the Don Quixote series. After exploring the rooms of Real Alcázar, we explored around the gardens and caught Pokémon. We really didn’t catch any new or good ones, but did manage to get lots of Pokéballs. Definitely a good place to stock up on Pokéballs. While we were in the gardens, I managed to catch a Machop, and evolve it into a Machoke. Awesome! It was obvious that at Real Alcázar, we had a very fun time!
The van was chased by loads of cattle as we drove by. We were in the Spanish countryside, visiting a bull farm, which breeds bulls to fight. This was one of the places were cowboy culture originated. The ranchers also had horses. They rode on the horses to help guide the bulls because guiding them on foot is too dangerous. Twice a week, the bulls run three kilometers. That’s far. Okay, okay, I know what you’re going to say. “It’s a bull farm. Shouldn’t you be talking about breeding bulls?”. I’m getting to that.
There are six very lucky bulls on the ranch, not to go to a bull ring, but to mate. Each of them have 20 mates. My dad says, “That’s a lot of headache”. No offense, women. The cows, once they reach age 2, are tested by a torero, for strength and aggressiveness, to show which cows to breed, so they can have fierce babies. Only 20% of them pass the test. The other 80% go to other farms, for other uses, such as dairy. The ones that stay get to mate… and share their mate with 19 other cows. Would you rather pass or fail the test, if you were a cow? I would rather fail, so I won’t have to share my mate with 19 others. However, I would rather be human, and out of all the humans, I would rather be… me.
Breathing hard, I reached the other side of the pool. 14-year-old Jamie had already tagged his sister, 10-year-old Felisha. My parents and I were in Valencia, meeting up with podcaster Jason Jenkins and his family. As you can tell, I had an amazing time with Jason Jenkins‘s two kids, Jamie and Felisha. We played Sharks and Minnows in the pool, zombie tag, and Pokémon Go. We caught many Pokémon, including some new ones. The most powerful new Pokémon we caught was a Growlithe at level 527. That’s almost at the end of spectrum! We also took down a gym, through hard work, perseverance, and many potions. We also put another Pokémon in a different friendly gym. I had so much fun with Jamie and Felisha!
There was the courtyard, covered in medieval stone with orange trees every six feet. There was a fountain roughly in the middle of the place. We were outside the Córdoba Cathedral in Córdoba, Spain. Built by many Moorish rulers from 784 to 987, the center was converted into a church in 1236. The interior of the cathedral was much grander than the exterior. The floor and the pillars are marble, and the arches red and white. What I found interesting was that there were two levels of arches, instead of one level. It was beautiful, but very plain. Until we got to the main church. Glorious Christian elements covered the altar and the area around it. Mary was portrayed on one of the walls; colored glass panes filtered the light into colored light. The most obvious Christian element was the big cross in the middle. We explored all around, gazing up at the miraculous wonder, and before we knew it, there was the exit door.
The fountain sprayed water delicately into various places. We were at a light show, with a couple other travel families. Some of us had managed to get amazing seats at the front. I was sitting at the far left, next to Katelyn, one of the three kids older than me. Liam, her younger brother, was sitting on the far right, next to another new friend of ours, Bennet. In front of us, the water changed colors as it changed its position. They switch from pink to orange, red to yellow, and even some of the sprayers pointed towards the middle, then towards the crowd, back to the middle, and rested, pointing straight up. Don’t think that the fountain only did that. It did a whole variety of complicated things, played pop songs, had tons of different colors at once, even spraying us a little. As you can tell, the fountains were pretty cool. So beautiful!
Casa Milá is an engineering feat designed by Antoni Gaudí, a famous Catalan architect. Because of that, it’s quite an astounding building. It has these amazing courtyards reaching up past the roof, to let in natural light. It has freaking elevators! In the early 1900s, when Casa Milá was built, elevators were pretty new, so it was quite something to have them. Also, the building is very, very wavy.
The roof is also incredibly well-done. It’s got tons of sculptures, mainly looking like abstract knights and serving as chimneys. Awesome! Check It’s made of marble, too, a beautiful material that’s very nice to slide your feet on. The staircases go straight over the courtyards, too. I find that one of the most impressive and advanced things. What do you think? Say, “👍” or “totes true” in the comments if you agree. Casa Milá is some pretty impressive stuff, right?
I stepped in, and gasped in astonishment. It was as if I had stepped into a forest. The tree-like pillars branched apart and held up the roof, which resembled the canopy of a jungle. Light was dappled all across the basilica. Colored light filtered in at the back of the place, warm colors from the west, cool colors from the east. We were at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, another amazing engineering feat designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Even today, it’s still incomplete. The main entrance hasn’t even been finished yet! Also, only 8 of the 18 towers have been built. The main tower, which is also called the Tower of Jesus, will reach a height of 170 meters above the ground, just a little shorter than the tallest hill in the area. La Sagrada Familia has been built to look like a forest. La Sagrada Familia certainly continues to be built just as Gaudí intended.
It is covered in sculptures. The sculptures are used for telling bible stories. The main altar was, unfortunately, closed off, due to construction, but the crucifix hung in the air, supported by a chandelier. Up at the far end of the church, way up, was a triangle, made of smaller golden triangles. This symbolized god the father. Below it, but above the crucifix, was a hazy collection of light, staying near its source. This symbolized God the holy spirit. We explored the whole place, end to end. Every detail was amazing. Even the doors! It was obvious that an immense amount of effort was put in to create the basilica. What a wonderful place. What a wonderful world.
The sun beat down as we walked past the Ancient Roman coliseum. We were in Nîmes, a town in southern France roughly halfway between Spain and Italy. I was confused as to why we walked past the coliseum, instead of going in, but I held my tongue, and soon learned why we had passed the coliseum. We were meeting up with our friends from Amsterdam.
You’ll remember from my post Amazing Amsterdam Part 2 that Asher is a lot like me. Really, if you ever got to know him, you would believe me. We talked for hours about various things: about a game I recently started playing called Civilization Revolution, about a game that he’s addicted to called Kerble Space Program, about my drafts for sci-fi novels, etc, etc. In fact, Asher even helped me make my stories more like real life. The big thing we discussed is that we agreed to both write half of a realistic, scientific comedy. Most of the time we were talking, we were waiting for dinner, but before dinner, we visited the coliseum from the beginning of the day, Maison Carrée, a former temple, and other old, cool sites.
The coliseum, built in 70 A.D, was almost intact, though not at its former glory. We learned a lot about gladiator fights. First off, gladiators went to schools to learn their skills, and represented their schools in their fights. Second, gladiators were rarely killed. When a gladiator fell, the crowd would scream out, giving their input. The guy in charge would then decide whether to give the signal for killing the fallen man, pointing his thumb at him, or to spare him, the sign being to clench his fist with his thumb inside it. If a gladiator was killed, the guy in charge would have to pay a large fee to the gladiator school.
Maison Carrée, which, as I said, had once been a temple, now has another use. It currently houses a short film of some of Nîmes’ history with the Romans. The short film was very interesting. It told of Nîmes’s founding, and then of how its culture changed, back in Roman times. At first, the area of Nîmes was very Gaul. They worshiped Nemausus, and then they became more Roman, made wine, worshiped Roman gods, etc.
After watching the short film, we went to a small, cute little park, and to another temple, this one mostly in ruins, the Temple of Diana. It was very small, so there wasn’t much to see there, but it was still pretty amazing. It’s amazing that it’s still there.
After visiting the wonderful, yet small and ruined Temple of Diana, we climbed up a hill, and then to the top of Tour Magne, an old Roman tower which was one of the eight towers that used to be part of the city walls. There wasn’t much room at the top. In fact, there was more room at the bottom than at the top! The top was basically a balcony. However, the view was amazing. We stared off into the distance, our gazes sweeping across the whole town… to the horizon.
The car stopped, and we got out. We made our way to the sidewalk, gravel crunching under our feet. We treaded up the hill to the courtyard in front of the Baume abbey, in central France. Then… we entered the abbey that had been built in the 9th century. After that, I wandered off on my own. From what I saw, the abbey was made up of three public courtyards, and various private buildings surrounding each of the courtyards. The first courtyard had a public church on the side, which I visited briefly. I strolled through the other two courtyards. When I exited the third and final courtyard, I found myself on a road outside the abbey. I followed it back to the parking lot. Climbing the hill again, I stumbled into a ceramic shop. I spent a good 15 minutes or more admiring the cute, little clay works. When I found mom and dad, we were back in the car and on the road to Saint-Étienne!
Worn out and exhausted, we finally arrived at the house of our friends, Antoine and Amélie. We talked for a bit, then went to bed. The next day, my parents, myself, and Antoine, went to the nearby Saint-Croix-en-Jarez abbey, which was still in use, as a village. It used to be a monastery, but was converted during the French Revolution. The bathroom was truly one of the worst I’d seen since Myanmar! The toilet was a squatty potty, and stank multiple times worse than a zoo. I would have never expected to see a toilet like that in France! However, I remembered from Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, that you can’t judge a place by its toilets. The same rule applies for the Saint Croix-en-Jarez abbey and village! It is cute, small, and wonderful, with adorable courtyards, complexes, and sculptures around every bend. No Pokémon, but 1 or 2 Pokéstops! We turned one bend, and it had an old courtyard with a fascinating statue. Why was it fascinating? We turned another bend, and found a cute complex. It would have been nice to stay the night, but Saint-Étienne was calling us back, so back to Saint-Étienne we went!
The food came, not looking very appetizing, but at the same time, it didn’t look that disgusting. We were at L’escargot d’or in Saint-Étienne, a small town in Eastern Central France. Now, you might be wondering, “What is it? What was the food?” I’ll answer your question. Our meal mainly consisted of… snails and frogs. Sounds pretty disgusting, doesn’t it? I am seriously not kidding when I say that frog tastes just like chicken. Snails though… both taste and feel like squid. They’re good at first, but the aftertaste, combined with the texture, makes them gross. France was full of fun. It wasn’t full of just any fun, but French fun.
I stepped into the opening. A vast cave system stretched before me, as far as the eye could see. These were the Baume caves. Stretching roughly three kilometers (around 2 miles) and consisting of many rooms, the Baume caves were a spectacular sight so see. The first room, like all the rooms in the cave system, had circles at the top, caused by swirling water, roughly 20,000 years ago. That’s a long time! All along the walls and the ceiling where black ovals, each about the size of my fist. These… were caused by bats. Good thing it was summer, because in winter, that room would have been full of bats. I nicknamed that first room “The Bat Room”. The next room was covered in veins, and had a loud, yet comfortable echo. The echo in the second room was similar to the echo in most auditoriums. Hence, I nicknamed the room “The Concert Room”. There were a couple more rooms, such as, the Lake Room, which I called, “The Picture Room,” because the rock formations could be used to create imaginary animals. The next and final room we saw was the Tombstone Room. I didn’t give this one a nickname, because the name it had suited it very well. It’s called the Tombstone Room because the rock in the center looks like Napoleon’s tomb in Paris. We walked back, through the amazing Picture Room, the booming Concert Room, and the fascinating Bat Room, to the open… and breathed fresh air.
Dambach La Ville was our first stop in Alsace. We stayed there for three nights. We rented an adorable apartment. The owner of the apartment had a pretty, brown, black, and white cat, who was very sweet and nice. The cat really liked her ears scratched.
One day, there was a dance performance at the weekly summer market, where five different pairs danced to various songs. They even danced to Cotton-Eyed Joe. It was a big surprise. I wasn’t sure they were dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe, but I was plunged into memories of when I was nine, before the trip or even this blog had started, I was to learn how to dance the Cotton-Eyed Joe with my class. Back then, I took it for granted, and didn’t really like the song, but at the moment I watched the dancers spin around, I had a strong desire to return to those times. Oh, the memories.
You know how much I like cheese, right? If you’ve been looking at my blog a lot, you’ll remember that in my post De Dutch Diet, I declared that I would buy my whole weight in cheese. Well, that’s right. Especially if it’s Munster cheese. In Munster valley, we were shown how Munster cheese is made. Believe me, cheese looks gross when it’s just getting started. After it’s processed, it turns into water with disgusting milk curds floating around inside it.
Once it’s stirred, it turns to smaller curds. In fact, if you added salt at this point, you’d have cottage cheese, which, from when I was 6 to when I was 8, used to be my breakfast. But the goal isn’t to make cottage cheese. The goal’s to make Munster cheese! After they get the small curds, they filter the curds, and put the cheese into a small wooden bucket. After a few hours, it hardens and takes its circular form. Finally, it’s stored for at least 3 weeks, and there you have it! Munster cheese! What a fascinating process!
Also in Alsace, we took a trip to Colmar, were we saw an Alsatian folk dance performance. Some of the dances they danced were similar to some of the dances I did for my music class performance, back in fourth grade. In the performance, many of the dances were circle dances, and in a few of those, the dancers jumped into the circle. In another dance, the dancers held strings of fabric in their hands, and entwined them.
On the way to Colmar, we stopped by a gorgeous and cute town called Kayserberg. It had stone buildings in German architecture, something hard to find in France, but easy to find in Alsace. There, we walked around and saw a vineyard. We also bought and ate a chocolate bar. Alsace was awesome!
In 1844, the Christilles family left their home town, Lampertsloch, in Alsace, a province in France. Jean Pierre Christilles, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, left, with his father, wife, and four children, by boat, and landed in Galveston, Texas, back when Texas was a republic. Eventually, they received land southwest of Castroville. They are my ancestors.
My great-great-great-grandmother was a Christilles. Roughly 172 years later, me, my mom, and my dad came back to Lampertsloch. As far as we know, no descendants of the Christilles family had came to Lampertsloch for over 150 years. It was a very cute town, in such a rural place that no Pokéstops even existed. At the end of the road, Lampertsloch looked more like a German town than a French town. The houses were much shorter and much wider than most French buildings. Trying to go even farther than most, we even visited a graveyard. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any of our ancestors there. It was too new. What really helped us was an e-book that mom had found online. It stretched back generations and generations, to our ancestors in Alsace. Then, it stretched all the way forward, and didn’t miss a single person. Well, not exactly. Since it had been published in the 1960s, it was very outdated! In fact, it was missing two whole generations! The book was missing my mom’s generation, and my generation! How dare you! Whatever the case, tracking down our ancestors was both fun and exciting!
Check out the Newscast I did for the battle of St. Mihiel. I studied this battle as part of my US History class. I hope you like it!
There it stood, in all its glory, the Palace of Versailles. The shining gold, the towering walls, complete with a massive courtyard. Built in the 1600s, the Palace of Versailles contained just as much glory as it had in the 17th century. The inside museum was a little boring, but don’t get me wrong! It was still amazing! The best part about the palace was that we got to rent a golf cart to drive around the gardens with. Even better, I got to sit on the back and catch Pokémon. I evolved an Eevee named Joan D’Arc into a Vaporeon, at combat power 1034. It’s our new best Pokémon! I found the golf cart tour really cool. The gardens were so big, the palace could have easily been called an estate. It even includes a small forest! Wanna guess what that was used for? Hunting! King Louis VIX, who built the palace, really liked hunting. That’s why he incorporated a forest into his palace. At the Palace of Versailles, we had an amazing time.
The graves stretched down the hill and into the distance at the Normandy American Cemetery. Such a sad graveyard. Down below us was Omaha beach, where many of the buried American soldiers fell and died. The countless rows and columns of crosses were dotted here and there by Stars of David. On each of them showed the soldier’s name, when they died, and which state of the United States they came from. I shuddered at the ones that said “Known But Unto God” because the idea of being blown to bits or burnt to death gave me the creeps. No one deserves to go like that. All of those soldiers deserve Medals of Honor. However, being buried in the land they helped to liberate might be even better than a Medal of Honor. We all give thanks to our soldiers. If Nazi Germany had won the war, more horrible and more terrifying things would have happened. The only things that stopped Nazi Germany were the Allied veterans and fallen soldiers. We thank you with all our hearts.
There it stood, rising up into the air like a mountain, sloping up on one side and down the other. There it stood, its tip scratching the sky and splitting the clouds as they blew by. There it stood, with its dozens of visitors going up it in elevators and taking cheesy pictures. Can you guess where we were? If you guessed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, you were right!
In Paris, we went all over the place. We caught Pokémon, saw sights, and walked around. We even caught 7 new Pokémon: Pinsir, Cubone, Tangela, and others. We even hatched a Mr. Mime! It was funny, hatching a Mr. Mime in Paris, because miming is a form of French art. Interesting, right?
We went to the Rodin museum, which was pretty dang cool. It was a museum on Auguste Rodin’s works. Rodin was a sculptor in the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s, whose works were like a version of impressionism in sculptures. His two most famous works are the Thinker and the Kiss.
Notre Dame, a large, stone cathedral first built in 1163, was beautiful, but a little boring. Climbing to the top was hard, but the view was pretty good. We saw the bells, and they were huge! We took silly pictures with them.
We also saw the Arc de Triomphe, which was a Pokémon gym. The Arc de Triomphe is a monument, a huge arc with carvings that commemorates the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. I noticed someone fighting it, and waited. I was waiting for a while. All of a sudden, the gym leader was down, and the gym lay unclaimed! Quickly I assigned my best Pokémon, a Golduck at level 705, to the gym, claiming it for my team! Two Pokémon joined mine. I knew we would hold the gym for a while. All I could think as I proudly watched my Golduck spin around and around at the top of gym was: Go Team Instinct!
As you may know, my dad is a huge beer fan. In the Netherlands, my mom also came to like beer. We decided to drive down to Belgium through the Netherlands to Ter Dolen castle in the small town of Houthalen. On the way, we stopped by two Trappist breweries, which are run by Trappist monks, who are separated from society. They have to find a way to support themselves. Some of them do this by making bread, others by making cheese, but most of them support themselves by making beer. Most of the beers we tried were bad, in my opinion. However, there was one dessert beer (who even knew they existed!) that I would have been able to stand, if only it wasn’t so yeasty! It tasted sweet, like cherries.
At the La Trappe brewery, there was a beautiful garden to walk around in. Also, it was full of Pokémon. Just to let you know, our new best Pokémon is a Golduck at level 705.
The Achel brewery was walled in, and gave me déjà vu. On the outside, it looked a lot like Old Dubai. On the inside, however, it looked like an outdoor café. After eating a whole sandwich, I had a whole ice cream, and got a bellyache. At least I wasn’t hungry!
The Ter Dolen brewery was where the dessert beer was from. I met another kid, whose name was Alec. Alec and I shared our builds in Minecraft. We had a wonderful time.
Back in Alkmaar, Netherlands, rows and rows of cheese covered the courtyard. Slowly they were carried to the scale, then to the carts, where they were bought via auction. This went on for hours. The cheese wheels were slowly taken away, until at one point, they were all gone. Believe me, I would have bought my whole weight in cheese!
To end our time in Amsterdam, we went to De Taart van M’n Tante. We had some delicious Dutch Apple Pie. What a way to end Amsterdam!
Did you know that I am very interested in space? If you do, you’ll know where to find me in 20 years! If not, you don’t know me yet! At the Space Expo, I was all around amazed at all the close-ups of planets, the International Space Station, and the projects that are going on. Galileo is a project by the European Space Agency. It is supposed to be Europe’s version of GPS. That sounds amazing, doesn’t it? The European Space Agency is also working on a moon base. They’re planning to use moon dust to 3-d print blocks to use. However, they don’t want to use actual people to create the base. Rather, have robots do the dirty work, while the humans in the International Space Station control the robots. The European Space Agency also wants to send another rover to Mars. This project is called ExoMars. Its goal is to find life on Mars by drilling a couple yards under the surface. Who knows what will happen? Maybe they’ll find life like humans on Mars! It’s possible! Scientists have found evidence that proves the fact that liquid water used to exist on Mars! Perhaps by the time I follow my dreams and become an astrobiologist, they’ll already have found life on other planets. Whatever happens, I will dedicate my life to finding, studying, and preserving life on those other planets.
One great day, we met a family of three at the NEMO Science Museum. Lily, 8; Alex, 6; and Maya, 3. We explored the entire museum. Alex and Maya got very hard to keep track of. We saw a short video on the ‘life’ of a hydrogen atom named Harry. He appeared after the big bang, drifting through space, all alone, until the first star was born. Right before his eyes, two hydrogen atoms collided to make an oxygen atom. She introduced herself as Odette. After a few billion years, the star exploded. Harry was on his own again. However, he couldn’t be alone forever. He met another hydrogen atom, named Huis. He and Huis combined to make a hydrogen molecule. They were drifting along happily when Odette crashed into them, combining to make a molecule of water. Suddenly, they were swept away by a comet, which took them to the nearest planet in sight, our planet Earth. They were in the water cycle. At first, it was fun. However, it got annoying after a while. Eventually, Harry became part of a different molecule. The molecule combined to form one of the first cells. Eventually, these cells combined to create a coral. After multiple years, the coral turned into a fossil because the level in oceans decreased. The fossil rolled into the water, and Harry became part of the water cycle again. Harry rained down, and was absorbed by a tree, becoming one with it. When the tree rotted, Harry turned into petroleum. The petroleum was pumped up, Harry turned into gasoline, and was released back into the open. He fell into a wheat field, and was ground into bread. Then, a boy ate the bread, and Harry became part of the boy’s bones. All of us liked Harry’s story, but none of us were more intrigued than Maya. We ended by making cars that ran on air. I’m not kidding! They really did run on air!
Boat after boat floated by, and I’d started to dance a little. On top of the chair, I got a great view of the parade, which was a celebration of gay pride. At first I was nervous, but I started to get into it. We spent an hour or two, watching one of the coolest parades ever. The floats were drifting by on the canals, though it was more like partying by than drifting by.
On the beach in Zandvoort, we saw our friends, Asher and his mom. If you searched around the world for a clone of me, Asher is about the closest thing you’ll find. He doesn’t look or sound much like me, but we have almost the same personality. We both like science, we both like video games, we both are creative, so on and so forth. I got to meet some of his friends, Sam, Zane, Saskia, Nate, and Mia. We had a great time building a stable sand-fort, and burying each other in sand. First was Sam, then Saskia, then Asher. However, they’ll have to wait until next time to bury me! We had a wonderful time!
The windmills in the distance spun around and around. The smell of chocolate in the air drifted around the block and across the street. It was so strong, I could taste it in my mouth. We walked on and on, over the bridge. We finally poked our heads into a chocolate shop. We were told about how chocolate was made. First, the beans were taken out of the pod, which was harvested from the trunks of chocolate trees. Second, they were roasted. Third, the roasted beans were ground into powder. This is how cocoa powder is made. Once you get the powder, you can make a lot of chocolatey things. I made hot chocolate, using a spoonful of cocoa powder, a spoonful of sugar, and about an ounce of milk. Honestly, the heaping mound of cocoa powder on my spoon was probably enough to fill two spoons. I might’ve added a little extra sugar. Also, we took a dress up picture. It was unbelievably boring, but Mirjam was very nice.
The Rijksmuseum was a sight to see. Painting after painting after painting after painting. It got ridiculous. The two paintings that were singled out were The Night Watch by Rembrendt and The Battle of Waterloo by Jan Willem Pieneman. I preferred The Night Watch; how the light fell on the men in the foreground, how the faces of the people portrayed looked so serious. I caught a Pokémon right in front of the thing. Really! It was amazing.
Pokémon update! We’ve been catching a lot of Pokémon lately, and gotten some advice. If you catch a Pokémon that’s not your best, hand it to the professor! He’ll turn in into candy (not my own doing)! Also, our current best is a Seaking at level 539!
The wind flew past my ears, yet my bike seemed to know that we had reached our destination. It locked up, and I couldn’t move my bike! It crashed into the curb and flew me off. My arm was scraped in the crash, but nothing too serious happened. Because we had the museum card we got to skip the whole line to the van Gogh Museum. That was lucky, because the line was very slow and backed up.
We spent a good hour or two at the museum. We saw a crazy amount of paintings by van Gogh. My favorite was The Potato Eaters. I liked it because the figures in the painting looked very extraterrestrial and goofy. They were very distorted and dark. I also really liked Wheatfield with Crows. I liked it because it was wavy and yellow.
There was also a Munch painting in there, which I did not expect. That was probably why that painting wasn’t in a Norwegian museum. After all, Munch and van Gogh’s art careers overlapped. Also, they used similar art styles. However it was a van Gogh museum.
There was also an exhibit about his mental instability. One night, he cut his ear off. And then in 1890, he shot himself! Had his mental instability gone that far? Or could it have possibly been local teen? These are both questions still have not been answered yet. Mentally sick or not, Vincent van Gogh was an amazing artist, today is regarded by some as the best in the world.
Recently I finished reading The Diary of Anne Frank, which is about Anne’s time in hiding during World War II in Amsterdam. It taught me that in times of trouble, try to enjoy life to its fullest. Whether it’s painting or doing what she did and writing a diary, get your feelings out, and express yourself, in your own way. Don’t keep it down or, like Anne said, you’ll suffocate. The diary fascinated me, how she was in a bad situation, but never gave up hope. Times got hard, but she pulled through, and showed that effort pays off. Always.
We went to the Secret Annex, where she, her family, and the other four people in hiding with them lived for two whole years. Anne Frank lived there with her parents, Otto and Edith Frank, her sister, Margot, and the van Daans, Peter, Petronella, and Hermann. Eventually, Albert Dussel joined them. They were doing so well… until someone betrayed them. On August 4th, a month before the liberation started in the Netherlands, the eight people in hiding were uncovered and arrested, as well as their helpers Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler. Their other two helpers, Bep Voskuijl and Miep Gies-Santrouschitz were left all alone. The eight members of the Secret Annex were split between five different concentration camps. Anne was shipped to Bergen-Belsen, where she died from typhus. Only Otto survived. After he heard the news that his two daughters were both dead, he spent multiple years trying to get Anne’s diary published.
I’ve learned from Anne Frank’s story that no prejudice is a right one. After all, we’re all just people. Anne Frank’s story is like a thorn, piercing straight through my heart, and I would give my hand… to change it.
**Note photos were not allowed in the museum. All images used in this post are taken from internet searches.**
Even though they can survive in temperatures ranging between 300 and -458°f, in my opinion their most fascinating feature is their reproductive cycle. The females grow eggs inside their bodies. Then, they shed their skin, and squirm out of it. The skins of water bears are completely transparent, so through the microscope, I could see a female trying to squirm out of her skin, which held an egg. The egg seemed to take up half her lower body! I could see also males looking around for something, probably the skins of females, containing eggs that needed to be fertilized.
The roller coaster started moving, and we plunged into darkness. The ride went around and around, slowly descending. Then it climbed up and descended again. Finally, it ascended, and we were back where we had started. Beforehand, we had ridden an incredibly goofy ride, which was kinda annoying, and a dizzying one that spun and spun and spun, and didn’t do much else. We ended with the Bobsled and an ice cream. The Bobsled was really fun, but the wait was long. We also went all over the park catching Pokémon, with the Pokémon Go app. We even caught a female Niordian, which are really, really rare. It was pretty exciting.
As you may already know, we are renting an apartment for 5 weeks. We got a good deal on it, so now we are here! Catching Pokémon on a daily basis! Our best is a Fearow at level 439. Isn’t that powerful?
We also saw the botanical gardens. It was dense with plants. It had a huge, spiky water lily the size of a bunk bed. I’m not kidding. Its huge pads looked as if you could step on them – of course, I didn’t want to find out the hard way. That would probably end up with me getting spiked to death. I wouldn’t want that.
At the science museum, Vitenfabrikken, I placed my hand on the plasma ball. All the plasma shot to my hand. An employee held a light bulb out to me. I grabbed it, and it lit up. She explained how the energy moved through my body to the bulb, which lit up. We also watched a space presentation in English (which was really more of a presentation on how space exploration has changed our everyday lives). I also tried to break a glass with my voice. I was close, but not successful. It was so hard!
We also went to the viking museum and farm, Avaldsnes. At the museum, I had a sword fight with a Norwegian boy. We learned that the vikings mainly used spears, instead of axes or swords, because they were cheapest, and had no horny helmets. There used to be a woman from Siberia, Ljufvina, who had married a Norwegian king, Hjor, became queen, moved to Avaldsnes, and had two sons. One of the sons, Prince Geirmund the Black-Skinned, was supposedly the most successful settler of Iceland. However, when he came back home to claim the throne, he found he was too late and the kingdom had already been taken over by Harold Fairhair. That must’ve sucked! He went back to Iceland for good. We also saw the model farm, and I got to do some archery. I even shot the rubber warthog in the neck!
Finally, we went on famous hike, to Kjerag Rock. There were three sets of climbing chains. Each of us slipped on the chains. When I slipped, I landed on my back with a thump. However, I felt no pain. At the top, it was incredibly foggy. There was still snow on the ground, too. I played in the snow, but got wet, cold, and miserable. Then we took pictures of Dad on Kjerag Rock with a 3,000 foot drop below him. What a way to end Norway!
The train rode through beautiful, white, snowy mountains. It rode through beautiful green valleys. It rode into the Bergen train station, coming to a stop at the end of the tracks. We had to navigate through really cute alleyways to get to our place. We liked it, too. We rested for the rest of the day and for the next day.
On our third day, however, we went on a fjord cruise. I was not happy. I was bored! I couldn’t really focus, because I just didn’t click, and I wasn’t really interested. I did like the earthy waterfall water. I loved how earthy it tasted. I also played with the baby in front of us. I traded her an extra map for an empty water bottle. She seemed to love the water bottle.
The next day, we went to Mount Fløyen. I had such a good time at the big kids’ playground. It was a very good anti-zombie base. There were many emergency escapes, and it was hard to get to. There were three watchtowers, and one watchtower had communication with the lowest level. We also canoed and went for a short walk. I played a zombie game with two German boys and a Norwegian boy at the playground. I caught two of them. I had a wonderful time.
The boat skimmed over the water. It was so fun going fast! We whooped for joy. It was very fun. The wind flew past our faces and felt very nice against them, even if it was cold. I was so happy that my dad’s friend Bjørn took us out on his own rubber boat for a ride in the Oslo Fjord. Then I looked behind my shoulder… at the upcoming storm. The waves got big and soaked us. What a relief it was to get back on dry land!
The rainy weather during our time in Oslo didn’t stop us from going out and enjoying the city. We were out and about every single day. While we were out, we walked around the city.
On our first day, we saw some epic viking ships. At first, I was astounded. There was a ship there that used to sail the open seas. The skeleton of its owner had a dagger cut in one leg and a sword slash in the other. Ouch! As we headed back, I saw an epic axe. AWESOME!!! I wanted to grab it. I wanted to hold it. I wanted to USE it. Sadly, though, it was locked up.
We also went to the Munch Museum. They didn’t have Edvard Munch’s Spring Plowing, which I’d studied and wanted to see (click here to read my short story Another Normal Day inspired by the painting), so I was disappointed. I did like it, though.
Finally, we went to the Vigeland Park sculpture garden. We laid in the grass and had ice-cream. Dad dragged us up the hill to a pillar covered in carvings. After that, I walked around in a very shallow area of the fountain and played zombie. I think I was a little too graphic, though.While I played, I caused a little kid to cry, and a man whom I guessed was in his fifties gave me a hard stare. It was just a warning, though. I had tons of fun.
Night and I continued grazing silently. Finally, she looked at me and asked, “How’d you sleep? Fine?”
I looked back at her and said, “No dreams. How ‘bout you.”
She replied, saying the same, then our softhoof (human) came and fetched us. It was time to walk around so that herbs could grow so softhooves to eat. It was another simple, peaceful day. In the distance, we heard the sharpteeth (dogs) chase around the sheep. After the trail had been walked, we settled down in the stable to have a midday nap. I relaxed to the sound of horses munching on there food. A few softhooves came in with strange items dangling around their necks. The softhooves would grab their strange items. Whenever the softhooves wanted, their strange items would shoot out a dazzling light; then the softhooves would point their massive, bulky light-guns (cameras) at a different horse. I didn’t want to get shot by those evil-looking things! My breath was getting heavy. I flinched away, crashing into the wall. The stable shook. I kicked the wall and it started crashing to the ground! My haunches were pinned down. The softhooves screamed in pain, agony, fear, and distress. The lucky horses clippity-clopped away, leave the stable in dust.
“This is the end,” I thought.
Before I could moan my thoughts, the boards shifted. I was free! I dashed into the woods, one of the softhooves yelling at me. The woods were a scary, barren place at this time, but they were the only place to refuge. Here, I would lie safe from the strange, light-gun-carrying softhooves. As I walked through the forest, sprouts and late snow crunched under my hooves. I heard a growl and stopped dead in my trackes, breathing heavily. I heard the sound of sharptooth-like animals fighting. My heart stopped. Then I heard…another scared horse! I ran straight to the sound, it was Night!
She cried for joy, and yelled my name. “Spring!” she cried.
I cried for her and we nuzzled eachother. Then, all of a sudden, the vicious beasts that looked skeptically like wolves ran at us – and they were not happy. Silently, Night and I ran to safety. We ran and ran – straight in to the arms of our owners. They hugged us. We were given a new home and a good meal.
It was another normal day.
Topkapi Palace was very interesting. I liked the Harem and the weapons/armor room. My favorite armor was the horse armor. My favorite weapon was one of those awesome 15th century guns. The Harem was interesting, too. The kings’ wives had to stay in a certain area and were guarded by eunuchs. Below them were the Sultans that had previously reigned (if there were any). It was also interesting that they gathered young girls and educated them. I had fun guessing how old they were when they were taken to the palace. 5? 6? 10? 8? 9? They had to be fairly young to be educated. When they grew up, the prettiest and smartest girls became the Sultan’s wives. The others were married off to some noble. I liked Topkapi Palace.
The next day we saw the Hagia Sophia. It was very interesting how it all blended in so well… I mean, the Mihrab facing Mecca and Mosaics of Jesus. The Arabic script and the thick columns. The awesomeness… and the boredom.
We also saw the Blue Mosque. It was quick, but it was beautiful and interesting.
My favorite sight was the Grand Bazaar. I liked the alleyways… they were relaxing to me. So relaxing that I forgot about everything.
Most of what I did was play video games with my friend Kaan. We played a lot of Minecraft. Unfortunately, we were not able to play together, but we both still got lucky. Kaan spawned in a Mooshroom Biome. That is the rarest thing that ever happens in Minecraft. The chances are about 1/999 trillion of the time. I spawned in a swamp/plain/forest village. Kaan built his house with a Mushroom tree as the floor. I took a moved into a house in the village. We both added the Nether to our worlds. We did eventually join games, but not for long. We had a great time.
The puppy slid down the watershed. He had been following us all this way. He was a great guide. He knew where the trail was. Sometimes he’d get offtrack. Every time we thought that he had turned around and gone home, he came back to us. We gave him a couple of names. I named him Guide. Dad named him Vlad the Inhaler, because he inhaled everything. Soooooooo cheesy! Vlad was a little black-and-white dog. A few hours in we finally got to where we wanted to go. On the way up, Vlad showed his talents. He never tired. He could also climb up steep rock blocks. Finally we could rest. We had arrived at a Cabana in the mountains with a great view. We had lunch. We gave Vlad some salami and a few peanuts. Vlad found some huge dogs and wanted to play with them. Their paws where the size of his head. I was worried about Vlad’s safety. One of the big dogs jumped at Vlad, barely missing his head. If the blow had hit, it could have been a killer. I carried Vlad out of the Cabana. I gave him some water. He was with us the whole rest of the way. We found another dog Vlad’s size on the way back. While we hiked up the hill to the village, Vlad roughhoused with the other dog. We had a great time.
The next time we hiked was to go to a cave. It was a long, boring hike through a couple villages, and there was not much to see in the cave. I still liked the cave, anyway. We got into the opening, and I explored a small passageway just barely big enough for me. It really opened up. My parents joined me. We explored the cave pretty far. It was so muddy. There was one part where the mud was halfway up our shoes. We had no choice but to turn back. Then we had lunch. As we headed back to our village, a big scaredy dog followed us. We kept telling him to go home, but he wouldn’t listen.
On our way to Bran, we saw the citadel of Râșnov. We also saw the Dino Parc. It was so awesome. It was mainly one giant playground beyond my dreams. Of course, it also had a walkway with prehistoric reptiles (not ALL prehistoric reptiles are dinosaurs) . There I tried my first ropes course. It was scary but awesome. Unfortunately you could only do it twice. I still had fun, though.
Our next big adventure was on Halloween night. We toured the Dracula Castle – I still got some candy – and met some nice people. We came dressed up, so everyone wanted to take our picture. Then we did a haunted house. I tried to shoo away the monsters that jumped out at us. Good thing they weren’t real monsters!
I was assigned a music project. I had to pick an opera to tell the story about. I picked La Traviata out of a short selection because it had nice arias that I liked. I picked to do a computer programming presentation because I like computer programming and I am good at it.
| _Step 1: LISTEN: Choose an Opera Aria to listen to many times. Write down the elements while you are listening. If you are not sure about the details of your piece you may find it online or ask Mrs. Mom for help. Listen to the music several times so you become familiar with the different sections. Listen deeply and with a musical mind.
Aria/Opera chosen: Brindisi in the opera La Traviata
|1. Tempo: Vivace
|Other things to consider or ponder:
_What inspired the composer to write this piece?
_Did_ _s_/_he_ _h_a_v_e_ _a_ _s_t_o_r_y_ _i_n_ _m_i_n_d_?_ _
_H_o_w_ _d_o_e_s_ _t_h_i_s_ _m_u_s_i_c_ _m_a_k_e_ _y_o_u_ _f_e_e_l_?_ _
_W_h_a_t_ _d_o_e_s_ _t_h_i_s_ _m_u_s_i_c_ _m_a_k_e_ _y_o_u_ _t_h_i_n_k_ _o_f_?_ _
Critical Thinking in Music (CTM) strategies Make a “mind movie” while you listen.
_W_h_a_t_ _i_s_ _g_o_i_n_g_ _o_n_ _i_n_ _t_h_e_ _m_u_s_i_c_?_ _
_What do you hear that makes you say that?
_W_h_a_t_ _m_o_r_e_ _c_a_n_ _y_o_u_ _f_i_n_d_?_ _
|2. Dynamics: Always changing, ranging from mezzopiano to fortissimo|
|3. Tonality (major, minor, or something else?): major|
|4. Meter/Time Signature: 3/4|
|5. timbre/instrumentation (full orchestra, string quartet, concerto, solo, duet, chorus, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, adult, child, families of instruments…): full orchestra duet, chorus|
|6. Form (5th grade only): ABA|
|7. My reflections on this music:
It makes me want to sway. It makes me thing of the ocean for some really really strange reason. Maybe because the volume rises up and down like the waves in the ocean.
|S_t_e_p_ _2_:_ _A_b_o_u_t_ _t_h_e_ _C_o_m_p_o_s_e_r_ _|
|Cite your sources and Fill in the Facts
Third Graders: 3 or more sources, Fourth Graders: 4 or more sources, Fifth Graders: 5 or more sources Use classicsforkids.com, sfskids.com, links from springdaleparkmusic.blogspot.com, an encyclopedia, Nettrekker, Google, Bing, yahooligans, Squidoo, previous ASO Study Guides, Media Center sources, and other (books, biographies, magazine articles…) to find sources for your research. Don’t use “internet”, Wikipedia, Ask.com, Mrs. Mom, youtube, etc. At least one non-internet resource is preferred. Ask Mrs. Mom if you need help!
|Dates—birth and death dates: October 9th, 1813 – January 27, 1901|
|Era (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or 20th century/Modern) Romantic|
|Important works—specific pieces for which s/he is known besides this piece: Aida, Oberto, Un giorno di regno, Nabucco, I Lombardi, Rigoletto, II trovatore, Don Carlos, Requiem.|
|What types of music did s/he compose besides operas (symphonies, ballet music…)? Requiem|
Other important/interesting facts
-Did you know that two of Verdi’s operas, Rigoletto and Aida are constantly among the most performed operas in the entire world, and both are performed 300 – 400 times a year worldwide.
-Legend has it that when Verdi was finishing up his opera ‘Il Trovatore’, a famous critic stopped by. Verdi sat at the piano and played a few excerpts for him.
“What do you think?” Verdi asked.
“That’s terrible,” the critic replied
“Well, what about this?” Verdi asked as he played another fragment.
“Rubbish” came the response.
“And this?” At which point Verdi played the now-famous “Di quella pira”
“Absolutely horrible!” said the great critic as he covered his ears.
Verdi jumped up from the piano and thanked the critic, saying ,”I’ve been writing an opera for the people of Italy not for purists like you. If you hate it, that means the whole world will whistle and play it all over Italy!”
Verdi was right! *
*Craciun, L. (October 10, 2014). 10 Most Interesting Facts About Giuseppe Verdi
[Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.cmuse.org/most-interesting-facts-about-giuseppe-verdi/2/
– He liked Shakespeare (a very famous English playwright). The operas Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff are all based on Shakespeare plays.
– He is a national hero in Italy! This is partly due to his Va, Pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) which became a song to help bring Italy together at the time it was written.
– His funeral was attended by more people than any other event in the entire history of Italy!
– Verdi is buried with his second wife in a house he founded for retired musicians.
|S_t_e_p_ _3_:_ _A_b_o_u_t_ _t_h_e_ _Opera|
|Cite your sources and Fill in the Facts
Third Graders: 3 or more sources, Fourth Graders: 4 or more sources, Fifth Graders: 5 or more sources Use classicsforkids.com, sfskids.com, links from springdaleparkmusic.blogspot.com, an encyclopedia, Nettrekker, Google, Bing, yahooligans, Squidoo, previous ASO Study Guides, Media Center sources, and other (books, biographies, magazine articles…) to find sources for your research. Don’t use “internet”, Wikipedia, Ask.com, “my mom”, youtube, etc. At least one non-internet resource is preferred. Ask Mr. Jackson if you need help!
|What is Opera (definition)?|
|1. Nationality (what language is it in): Italian||4. What type of Opera is it: Buffa|
|2. Date composed: 1853
Date Premiered: March 6, 1853
|5. What type of singers are featured in this opera: Every kind of singer.
5a. Write the definition of these types.
|3. Era (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or 20th century/Modern): Romantic||6. What is the form (structure) of Opera: ABA form|
Opera: Form of theatrical music performance in which the story is told entirely through instruments and singing.
Aria: Lyrical style of singing in an opera.
Tenor: Male lead in an opera
Soprano: Highest role in the Fach system; usually cast as the leading female role.
Fach System: General association of specific roles with a vocal range to help with casting or writing the piece.
Types of Opera (name and define):
Opera Seria: ‘Serious Opera’ is an opera with a cane and an emphasis on very ornamented arias rather than a plot line.
Opera Buffa: This comedic opera style evolved from the funny scenes of Opera Seria. People wanted more, so it became its own genre. This style of opera is mainly about everyday people in everyday situations, often comedic situations.
Write a summary of the overall story, include: Main Characters, Where does it take place, When does it take place, What is the plot (main problem/resolution of the story).
La traviata is a tragic love story that takes place in and around Paris, sometime near 1850.
Violleta, a French courtesan with tuberculosis, goes to a friend’s party, and meets Alfredo Germont, who would later be the love of her life. They’re forced to part by Alfredo’s father, but reunite as Violleta dies.
Write a summary of what is going on in this particular aria:
Brindisi is a lively drinking song about celebrating the happiness of love.
Interesting facts about THIS OPERA:
‘La traviata’ means ‘The Fallen Woman’. Brindisi is one of the most famous opera melodies of all time. La Traviata is based on the successful French Novel ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ written by Alexandre Dumas. La traviata’s subject and setting were novel for opera in the middle of the 19th century. The scale is intimate and bourgeois, not heroic or noble. The opera features some of the most challenging and revered music in the entire soprano repertoire; the aria “Sempre libera” at the end of Act I is especially well known.
I found myself relaxing in a Széchenyi Bath at 38°c (100°f). The hot water came from hot springs. Soon Dad dared me to jump into another pool that was 20°c (68°f). I was so cold! The water in that pool felt like ice water from Antartica. I got out as soon as possible.
When I got back in the other pool, I staggered back, saying, “Ow, ow, ow! Hot, hot hot!”
I got used to it soon, though. Not long after we grabbed our stuff and started to head towards the big attraction. Dad got in a sauna that was 45-50°c (113°-122°f). He only lasted about five minutes before he got out. Five long minutes. After that I pointed to a pool that was 18°c (64°f) and told Dad that after going into the sauna, people cool off in that pool. Dad didn’t jump in, but I did. I became an ice cube. It was that cold. I climbed out shivering as we went out into the open air. We got into a big pool that was not much cooler than the one we had got into in the first place. I watched some old guys playing chess for a little while. They were pretty good. Next to that pool was a lap pool. We checked out what was on the other side of the lap pool. I’m glad we did. It was a pool similar to what we were just in. It was a little bit colder and it had a lazy river. Inside the lazy river was a small relax pool. I had a great time in the lazy river. The current was so strong that if you tried to held onto the side, you couldn’t last more than a minute. Also, if you tried as hard as you could to swim against the current, you went nowhere. It was really hard to exit, too. Before I was ready, though, we got up and left.
We also did an escape room, which is where you are locked in a room and you have to get out. How fun! We figured out puzzles, which led to the next puzzle, which eventually led out. Sometimes we even had streaks. My favorite streak was when I found a key in a post, which opened a cage, which gave us a man with a key. The key that the man was holding opened a chest, which held lots of fur hats and a box. We didn’t opened the box until much later, then it gave us a ball. I had lots of fun. I wish we could do an escape room everywhere we went!
We also saw two sad things. We saw the shoes on the Danube. It represented how the Nazis valued the Jews’ shoes more than their lives. They did this by making them take their shoes off, then shooting them on the banks of the Danube. This made me sad. We also saw the House of Terror, which is where the former Hungarian Secret Police were based. It is where they tortured people. It was also full of old movies about people being happy to be in a communism. In those movies, they also liked Stalin. They were a fake reality. They made me angry.
On our first day in Bratislava, we went to the old town just to see it, and went to a little café where I discovered my new favorite food: Sheep Cheese Gnocchi with Bacon (Bryndzové Halušky). It is the best food I ever had in my entire life. The best cheese, too. Sheep Cheese Gnocchi a very traditional Slovak dish. We also saw the Bratislava Castle, but we could not go in because it was closed for the rest of the day. It had been originally built in the 9th century A.D. Wow, that’s super old! We did not do much more that day. We still had fun, though.
The next day we took our first trip to Vienna. We took a one – hour train from Slovakia to Austria. The first thing we did was go to Haydn’s house. Haydn is a very famous Viennese composer who lived in the 18th century. He had lived in that house for the last 12 years of his life. He had a very strict schedule, and his private life was actually very public, at least compared to nowadays. Next we saw St. Steven’s cathedral. It was massive! Then we ate lunch at Café Mozart. I had a delicious Chocolate Mousse. Many hours later, we saw a Mozart performance. I was bored to tears. I am not a big fan of Mozart.
The next day I went to a jump place with Lucas and Matúš in Bratislava. I had an amazing time. Though, when I got there, I immediately jumped on the trampoline. I did a successful summersault, though my backflip was an epic fail. I landed on the side of my neck and strained it. I still had fun, though.
The day after that we went to Vienna again. It was a really amazing day in Vienna. First we saw the Spanish riding school, which was pretty cool. We got to see horses jump with all four hooves off the ground. Next we rode the Ferris wheel, which was really cool. We got off and I convinced mom to ride a small roller coaster with me. It was called the Dizzy Mouse. Mom said she was going to kill me. It was such an itty bitty roller coaster, but it was a lot scarier than you might think. It went up, then curving down super fast, and spun around in circles. You were in this little bucket thing, and it was so scary. Next we went into the Mozart house. So boring! There was nothing cool in there. He only lived there for three years, and none of the stuff in there was actually his! It was like a big music museum. If you want me to talk positive about it, then you might as well go tame a wild lion. The Mozart statue was boring too. At least I got to call him “hot potato” and “watermelon”. That was the fun part. Then back to Bratislava we went. Our adventures in Vienna and Bratislava … were pretty much over.
On the day we got to Prague, we hung out and rested for a few hours before we actually got out and did anything. We saw the Jewish quarter of the city. We toured a few synagogues, and the holocaust memorial. It was covered with names of Jews that had lived in Bohemia and Moravia. Their last known place of their residence also accompanied their name. Along with all of that was their birth and death dates. You could see the pattern in the year they died; 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944. Their ages ranged widely, though. The youngest one I found was ten, the same age I am now. That’s heartbreaking! The oldest one I found was 87, too old to have been forced to do all that horrible stuff that the Nazis made them do. The memorial made me feel sad and helpless. The Nazis even studied American hate against the blacks and the Jim Crow laws in the segregated south of the U.S. and applied it to their own situation, magnifying the hate. I learned that anything, no matter what, can be used for bad if it falls in the wrong hands. With grief, we left and went back to our apartment.
When our friends came and left, that was a sign that it was bedtime. The next day we had breakfast with our friend Peter. After that we walked around, sightseeing with our friends. Peter has two sons named Lukas and Matúš. Lucas is 11, while Matúš is 5. We had lots of fun trying to scare each other and talking about Minecraft. We tried many Czech dishes and had a wonderful time.
The next day we went sightseeing early, but Lukas didn’t get to come because he didn’t do his homework. This time was very boring. As I got on the train to Bratislava with Lukas, Matúš, the train started moving and Prague disappeared into the horizon.
“I can’t believe he didn’t even charge us,” my mom said.
The conductor of the train had just come by. He had revealed that we had gotten on the wrong train. We were surprised by his kindness to not charge us. We still had to get off on the next stop, though. When we got on the train we were supposed to get on in the first place, we realized that it was much slower than the train we had accidentally got on. We reached Venice and got off, I was so impressed and amazed. “Awesome,” I thought, “This is really, really cool.” We got to our apartment and hung out there for the rest of the day.
The next day we walked around and explored the city. We found the Jewish ghetto. It was the only place in Venice Jews could live in the 16th – 18th centuries. There were only a few bridges, and these bridges used to be guarded. Talk about strict! Tiny, too! It was so small. It was just one plaza with buildings all around it. This plaza wasn’t as big as Saint Mark’s Square. It was about 3/4 the size of Saint Mark’s Square. Not only that, but the day we went was also a Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah. We saw them sing and dance. They were really partying!
We got back to our apartment and a few hours later saw Opera Balleto performance, which is a performance of arias and short ballets from various operas by various composers. The players wore masks and the singers wore wigs. Sometimes they sung such high pitches that I covered my ears!
The next day we went to Island of Murano. There we saw a glass-making demonstration. The company had one of their best glass-makers make a small vase and a little horse. The horse took about two minutes to make. The vase took much more time to make. When the vase was done, another glass maker threw in some paper. The paper caught fire and burned to ashes!
Next we took a vaporetto to the Island of Burano. A vaporetto is water bus and is one of the major forms of transportation in Venice. Burano is known for its colorful houses and its lace. We saw a lot of lace there. I wasn’t particularly interested. We walked around Burano, and mom popped into a lot of lace shops. We tried to find a place to eat lunch, but we were unsuccessful. We ended up skipping lunch and going back to the main island for an early dinner. We ate at Osteria Mascaron. We picked it because Anthony Bourdain ate there, too. I had cuttlefish with black sauce. It was surprisingly really, really good.
We woke up early the next day. We walked around Saint Mark’s Square and took some pictures. We almost had mass in Saint Mark’s Cathedral, but when we checked inside it was really noisy from all the renovation. It was too noisy for mass. We went back to our apartment. Later we took another walk around the city. We rode a traghetto, which a gondola that takes you across canals, across the grand canal. We had a very awesome time in Venice. It is very – how do you describe it – Venetian. #PureUniqueness
I got out of the car. My family and I saw a great big church. We went inside and saw arches, columns and vaults inside. I could tell this was Romanesque. It was very big. Very, very big. By the time we got out, we went into another church. This one was Baroque. It was made out of white marble. It had lots of pictures about stories from the bible. They used these pictures to learn bible stories, since most people at that time were illiterate. We headed out, and we started walking around. We saw a lot in the narrow alleyways. We saw a Pinocchio thing and some old buildings. When we got back, we saw a guy playing “Hotel California” by the Eagles on his guitar. His version didn’t have words. As we got on the road to Verona again, I asked Dad to put that song on the radio. I didn’t think I’d ever request that!
The next day, we woke up early to see Verona. We had already returned our rental car. We got out and starting walking around again. We climbed a hill and looked at the view. There was a castle on top of the hill, but we didn’t see it. When we got back down, we saw a big Romanesque church. This one was not half as big as the one in Bergamo. After that we found a nice café to eat “breakfast” in. The reason we couldn’t find a good place to have a decent breakfast in was because Italians don’t really have breakfast ( you may already know that ). Then we walked around and found Piazza delle Erba. There we found a small art gallery and people could bring their dogs inside! Dogs are allowed almost everywhere in Italy.