Dancing Through Europe!
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!