Dancing Through Europe!
Continent of Europe
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!
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.
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.
As you may know, I have been collecting coins during the trip. I have African coins, European coins, Asian coins, and Latin American coins. I’m pretty sure my collection is worth at least $5. I enjoy collecting coins. They are like souvenirs to me. I do have some special souvenir coins that are simply priceless. My favorite coin is an old Bolivian coin. It’s massive, and still squeaky clean. It’s also very shiny. It has a great, big 5 in the middle. It was made in 1899. When we were in Bolivia, a nice man named Jorge gave it to me. I also have a golden one from the Acropolis, and a silver medallion from Italy. I love coins. Coins, coins, coins.
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 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 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.
Then we walked to the arena, but on the way we had a chocolate break. The arena almost looked like a small version of the Colosseum in Rome, but they use it as a theater! Isn’t that cool?!? I love it when people do something like that. After that, we went to Juliet’s balcony. It was built in the 20th century totally as a tourist attractions. It was overcrowded with many, many, many young couples. It was not even worth going there. After that we had another chocolate break. This time it had fruit, too. Finally we went to Giardino Giusti. My favorite part was the hedge maze. I also liked the turtles. There were at least 10 of them in one fountain! Too bad they weren’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
One day we went hiking in the forest in San Bartolomeo, which is a tiny village in Northern Italy. We collected lots of chestnuts! Our inspiration for this was that we saw a man collecting chestnuts. We filled our pockets with them, and we ended up having eight pockets full of chestnuts. They were really tricky to get because they came in pods that were super spiky. We found lots of big ones, even two huge chestnuts. We had a great time. We ended up giving them to our friends at our AirBnB Apartment. I didn’t know that hiking could be so fun!
The next day we went to Bellagio and it was so amazing. I thought I was in Disney Animation Studios. It is just so beautiful. You have the lake, then the mountains in the background. The water is so clear that you can see straight down to the bottom. We walked among the many narrow alleyways cutting through the town. At one time we stumbled upon a café and I had a glass of hot cocoa. My parents had some coffee. Then we kept walking among the narrow alleyways. At one point we explored some gardens. After that I had some gelato. Yum yum!
As I told you, we stayed in a AirBnB Apartment. The owners of the AirBnB apartment had two kids: a 3-year-old named Jimmy and a 10-year-old named Jessie. I enjoyed playing board games with them. We played “Crazy Monopoly”, which is just like regular Monopoly, but you make up the numbers and whatever’s on the Community Chest and Chance cards. That was very fun. I also played “Guess the Code” with Jessie. Once she even guessed my code in one try!
“This church is round. Are you kidding me?” I asked.
Columns circled the inside of the building. They supported small arches that held up the building. Each level up they got smaller and smaller. It was all made of stone. I was told that the church had been built from 1150 – 1180 A.D. This was during the Romanesque period. Next we saw a complex of three churches that were built into one. The first part of the church was a Renaissance building that was built in the 1500s A.D. Its arches were much bigger than the ones inside the round church. Through a doorway we found a 9th century church. This place was more like the round church. It was rectangular, though, and had thicker columns that were the shape of the building itself. The next level contained a 7th century crypt that was much smaller and more closed than any other building we had seen. We exited and next we saw a church that was built in the 1100s A.D. Inside were many frescos that were used to teach bible stories, because reading and writing was too rare. The pews had been replaced by pop-up chairs for cleaning. A whale bone was on one of the arches. During the building of the church, workers found it in the ground.
As we left, we were given rosaries, medallions, and bracelets. We got back in the car and drove to our AirBnB apartment.
I said, ” The medallion actually warms me up. ”
We got out of the train. We barely even crossed the street when three Aussies stopped us to ask for directions. They wanted to get to the 1896 Olympics stadium that was rebuilt to look like the stadium that was already there in ancient times. There they held the 1896 Olympics, and 108 years later held the 2004 Olympics. We raced in the spot that people raced in thousands of years ago. People also raced there in the 1896 Olympics and the 2004 Olympics. People also died there in gladiator battles thousands of years ago.
After that we saw the temple of Zeus and took a few pics. It was never completed and no one knows why.
That night we went to the park by our Airbnb. There I met my Greek friend Costadinos. We played for hours in the playground. That was fun!
The next day my family and I woke up early to see the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. The Acropolis Museum had a glass floor in parts. Through this you could see ruins of the ancient Greeks. They had a really cool LEGO Acropolis model in the Acropolis Museum. That was my favorite part of the museum.
Soon before night fell, we had our first Baklava. It was delicious!
The day after that we saw The Ancient Agora of Athens, which is an ancient public square where they talked about political issues and gathered for social events. This was built about 2,500 years ago with a sewage system! Wow! That’s crazy! We toured the actual area where democracy started. The actual area! We also got a great view of the Acropolis by the Temple to Hephaestus. It was amazing! On the way we stopped by a Greek Orthodox Church built in the 11th century A.D, over a thousand years ago. Next I fed the pigeons in Syntagma Square.
All this was after 8 A.M. Good thing it wasn’t before!
I really liked Athens because I got to play with a friend and saw a lot of things I was interested in.
Me, my mom, and my dad had a 14-hour layover in London on June 25, 2015.
The first thing we did was have breakfast with our friends. Guy (the 9-year-old boy) had already finished his breakfast, while Coco (Guy’s 6-year-old sister) had patiently waited. After breakfast (which was cereal) we played soccer in the small field. Guy won against me and Coco and then me alone (He is a very good soccer player).
Then we had a tour of the city. ON FOOT. First we saw Big Ben. It was just a very a big clock tower.
Next we saw Westminster Abbey and Downing Street. I took a picture with the policemen.
Next we got hot dogs on a stand outside Westminster Abbey.
We saw Royal horse-guards on our way to Trafalgar Square.
There the adults got lunch to go. We then walked to St. James Park. The adults had their lunch and the kids their ice cream.
Lastly, on our way back we saw Buckingham Palace and for transportation had a small issue because the westbound District and Circle lines were down.
But we resolved it by taking an Overground train north and switch west. I think all the train system, with the names and colors are really cool.
London was very expensive ( but still- it was cool). To go in somewhere was about 20 pounds per person. To tour on bus was 30 pounds per person. And the “tube” (subway) to the airport (which was called the Piccadilly line) was awful. It was so cramped at the beginning. And it was hot. But, other than a few things, it was great.
TBT! I went to Istanbul,Turkey in 2007. The food was yummy! And I am going back there in a few months. I am exited to see Instanbul again!
Click here if you want too see more of my earlier travels in Istanbul, Turkey, because it was awesome because the food was yummy because the food was yummy.
USA –} East Africa –} Europe –} India –} Southeast Asia –} South America –} Panama
We are going around the world for 10 months starting in the USA and ending in Panama. That is the main part of this blog.