Today is the second day for us to be in Spain. We began our day at El Soplao. El Soplao is a cave highlighting uniquely spectacular geological formation could only be found in five places in the whole wide world. El Soplao was originally used as a mining cave, and its geological value was not discovered until 1975. By following the minecart’s tracts we are inside the cave. Inside the cave there are countless stalactites which seem to grow defying gravity. The formation of this cave started about 240 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. By just looking at the stalactites, you would be breathless by the power of nature how nature is abled to create such grandiose formation with only calcium carbonate and water.
In the afternoon, we went to the Guggenheim Museum. It is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank O. Gehry. I am impressed by its outside structure. The curves on the exterior of the building were intended to appear random. It is made of titanium and glass, which shows the idea of future building. When we enter the museum, the strong contrast between limestone that used in classic museum and titanium that is a future material is amazing. We enjoyed some excellent painting of cubism and abstract expressionism. Cubism paining focuses on the illusion of perspective, breaking up and reforming. Early abstract expressionism uses dark color and negative emotion to reflect the dark time in which it arose. Post-abstract expressionism then use random line and figure to express passion feeling.
Lastly, the model “The matter of time” is an iron sculpture designed by Richard Serra. Some twisted surface but randomly in the museum but it still looks beautiful. They produce different effects on the movement and perception of the viewer. When I walked inside of them, it creates a dizzying feeling of space in motion.
Day 7 by Bill Wang and Eric Zhou
Today we said our goodbyes to France as we continue our journey across Western Europe. We left Bordeaux early in the morning to embark on the long bus ride into Spain. We were on the bus for a long time while traveling out of France. After crossing the France- Spain Border, we went to the city of Pamplona where we were split into groups and were given a scavenger hunt. We had to find several items on the list such as a statue of Ernest Hemingway and a statue of bulls, and had to find a Spanish flag and take a photo of them with our group included. Other things on the scavenger hunt were that we had to have a conversation with a local in Spanish using three or more phrases and to try new foods such as “Pinxos” and “Tapas”. After that it was an hour bus ride to the city were we are in right now named Bilbao. We got there around six and had academy time where everyone was being critiqued on our best photos or our best sketches. I wish our team won the scavenger hunt but Audrix, Harold, Katerina, Eric and Danny Zhao and took home the prize of Pamplona Bull stickers.
At 7:30 we left the hotel and started the trip, which was about pre-history.
After about two hours driving, we came to the museum which is located in Les Eyzies- De- Tayac, a small town. The museum retraces the major stages of Prehistory and Protohistory throughout the Ile-de-France, the first vestiges attesting to the presence of Man, around 400, 000 years of our human history. There are two floors and access to the museum is via a staircase going back in time and the different geological strata. Under the heading “An African History”, it talks of several different themes such as, Lucy , the steps of Laetoli ( bipedalism ), first tools and the teenager of Lake Turkana. During that time period, human make their own tools. Stone tools, bone and ivory art objects, sculptures and life-sized reconstructions that permit a better understanding of the evolution of societies are all enhanced within a contemporary architecture that is well integrated into the site.
In the afternoon, we went to the Lascaux Museum. It is a museum full of cave painting copies. This museum tries to represent the painting in a imitative cave scenario. They rebuilt all the paintings again in a manmade cave. This museum combined different kinds of cave painting that people discovered. And it explains the function of different part in the cave. There is big opening area that was used for ceremony because most of the painting are surrounding in this area. This first represented the process of discovering the museum, which was found accidentally by four people and a dog. I think this is the most interesting part because is was represented in a film and also it sets the visitor into the same condition. I was surprised the temperature in the prehistory was extremely low. In the winter, it was almost -20 °C. Even in the summer, it was only 7°C. However, in a such harsh condition, human still pursued art and tried to express the desire of their needs.
Emily Lin and Selena Hu
Waking up much earlier this morning, we had our last breakfast in the town of Poitiers. Another long trip had begun as we sat on the bus, where many of us fell asleep as we got to the highway. It was a three and half hours of driving to our destination, Bordeaux. Water frequently dropping from the darkness above us, the rain became even more rapid, as we arrived in Bordeaux. The walking tour officially began at 12:45pm. The Bordeaux cathedral was the first stop in this beautiful city. This gorgeous church was located in the heart of the capital of Aquitance, and was listed as the World Heritage site. We walked around the gorgeous church and were introduced a little history of the church. The most important part of this trip finally began, which is the visiting of history museum. The museum had more than 25000 years of historical collection inside, from the Paleolithic to the modern period. In the beginning, there were sculptures and tools of the ancient period, such as the lady Venus, and the spears. The timeline of the historical collection goes on as we went through different sections. We visited a lot of great sculptures in each of the time period. As we walked into slave section of the modern period, depression overwhelmed us. Everything in this section made us uncomfortable, for example, the handcuff, the shotguns and the sculpture of a representation of a slave, who was locked up by chains all over his body. After visiting of museum, the tour guide led us to a lot of beautiful and historical sight spots on the street. The most attractive part was the church in the town “Saint peter” church (Eglise Saint-Pierre). St Peter church is a classical flamboyant Gothic architecture, the church is located in an elegant square and some parts of the church were destroyed in the 18th century. As the church with long history, it symbolizes the faith of the city.
Today is the third day we were in Paris, and we departed from Paris in the early morning to Amboise.
It took about 40 minutes to leave the city of Paris, and we passed through the Arc of Triumph, which we visited on the first day in Paris. I was astonished that the city of Paris is very big. According to our tour guide, the place that we left for was more like a countryside unlike Paris, which made me more willing to go there as soon as possible. However, it was a very long drive: it took us about 4 hours to get to Amboise. On the way, there were a lot of trees and green fields, which was an amazing view since there are too many places filled with pollution. The air refreshed my brain, and the green refreshed my eyes.
After lunch, we went to a local castle called Château d’Amboise in Amboise where Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519. The castle was built during the Renaissance period. Besides the death of Leonardo da Vinci, King Charles VIII of France also died in this castle by accidentally hitting his head on a door lintel. The castle was abandoned for centuries because of the religious wars in Europe between two French families, the Bourbon Family and Guise Family, and between two religions, Protestantism and Catholicism. The castle had been neglected until the mid-19th century.
Around six o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived in Poitiers from Amboise, France. It is a small but very beautiful town. Ross people walked on the spacious streets. We met with the French guide in front of Saint-Pierre Cathedral. She led us on a walking tour of Poitiers. The main idea for this walking tour was this Roman Catholic cathedral which was located in front of us. This huge stone structure is the largest religious building in the city. We can clearly see many catholic and biblical features on the stone, especially Mary and her son. It represented many stories from the Bible because in the past, the Bible was written in Latin. People could not even read or understand things. The church presented those stories outside of it. It was reconstructed from 839 on the consent of the Emperor. The cathedral has one of the finest sets of stained glass from the 12th and 13th centuries. The three stained glass windows on the top were the oldest. A painting on a wall of the nave depicts Jesus in Gethsemane from the end of the 18th century. Another represents the Holy Family. Those were whitewashed during the revolutionary period.
We are going to go to Bordeaux tomorrow as the last city we are going to stay in France. Even though we were very exhausted because of the long ride in the early morning, we all enjoyed the views and had a great experience.
Shiqi (Steven) Tu & Chengxi (Frank) Fan
Today is the first morning we wake up in “the most beautiful city in the world”–Paris. After breakfast, we took the bus to view the beautiful scenery of Paris including the grandiose city hall and Romantic Seine River. And we arrived at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Cathédrale Notre-Dame is one of most notable and magnificent Catholic treasure in the world. The Notre Dame means “our lady,” which is dedicated to the Virgin Marie. It is more than 800 years old now, and there are still many people from all over the world to see it. People think they can revive the truth from God. I have to say this is the most magnificent and graceful building I have ever see; even I am not a Christian, I feel purified and calm when I stand in it and look at the elegant rose
At noon, we separated into two groups and started the tour of Catacombes de Paris a maze of tunnels and crypts underneath the city streets where Parisians placed the bones of their dead for almost 30 years. Catacombs sets at about 20 meters underneath the ground, and it is about 300-kilometer long. About 6 million of people’s body bone were saved underground. However, no one can identify each bone’s body owner. Most of these people died because of the French revolution and enormous plague. To prevent plague will influence more people, the king decided to move out million of dead people’s body to the beneath of the ground. It took us about an hour to go through small part of the Catacombs.
After a 15-minute drive, we arrived the second largest museum in the world, Louvre Museum. As we know, Louvre stored more than 40,000 art pieces including Mona Lisa, Victoire de Samothrace, Aphrodite. The first impression of Louvre was like a shopping mall since Apple store, jewelry store and food court were built inside of Louvre. Many great arts that always pop out on the Internet appear in front out eyes today, especially many masterpieces from Renaissance period. The tour guy guides us for an hour, and we had an extra hour for sketching and photographing. Louvre journey was impressive and inspired.
After we had left Louvre Museum, we went to a local restaurant and tried the delicious crêpes recipes. And then we went to the Seine River to take a boat tour. We saw all the street views we have already see during the day, but when it’s night, and all the lights turned on, everything looks more dignified and mysterious on the boat. It is a long day; it is a beautiful day.
We landed in Paris at 6:00am on Wednesday, March 1st. We were very tired and in need of sleep, but I knew that we had a full day of activities ahead of us. First up on our agenda was to drop our bags off at the hotel and have breakfast. When we all finished we all got back on the bus for a tour around Paris. On the bus tour we saw the different districts of Paris, the different rivers, The Arch de Triumph, and many different statues around the city.
This is my first time in Paris so it was really a great experience. When the bus tour ended we split into groups and had a little free time to grab lunch. I went with Audrix and Anil. We walked a few blocks until we stopped to get a sandwich in a bakery. After lunch we went back to the hotel to check in and chill for an hour and a half. I was very tired so it was very nice to relax at the hotel. We then took a trip to the Eiffel Tower, which was the highlight of my day. It really lived up to my expectations. I climbed to the top where the view was amazing. You can see all of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Then after the descent from the tower we made our way to dinner. I ate escargot, veal, and chocolate mousse. Everything was delicious. We also had live music at dinner and a performance of Skelly, Katerina, and Emily doing the chicken dance.
After dinner we made our way back to the hotel. I was so tired I immediately went to sleep. The first day in Paris was amazing. The highlight was definitely the Eiffel Tower, but everything was amazing.