Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Southern France and Catalonia

Thursday of last week was the last day of my Catalan class. I took the exam on Wednesday, and was worried that I didn't do very well. When I got my grade back, however, I was very excited to see that I received a 9.7 out of 10. Although it is nice to have one less class to worry about, I also miss seeing my professor and the other students in the class so often. It was easy to become friends with students in that class because they were all foreign exchange students as well. Also, the professor was always patient with us because she understood that we had never taken any Catalan classes before. She was willing to work with us so that we could get the best possible experience from the class.
This weekend we had a group excursion to southern France and other cities in north-eastern Spain, also known as Catalonia. We left on Friday morning, and we took the bus two hours to a town called Colliure, France. This was my first time being to a country other than Spain in Europe, and I loved the town very much because of the bright colors and beautiful beach. Many fishermen used to live in the town, and the houses are all painted very bright colors so that the fishermen would know which way to point their boat when they were heading back home from sea. The town is small, but I enjoyed walking through the streets and seeing all of the shops and restaurants. Another interesting thing about the town is that its cemetery has the body of Antonio Machado, a famous Spanish poet. He was a poet before the Spanish Civil War and fled to France after the war to avoid the Franco dictatorship. While he was crossing the Pyrenees Mountains with his mother, they both became ill. Machado and his mother both died shortly after they got to France. Their death serves as a reminder of how tragic and unnecessary war can be. 

After we went to the cemetery, I went to get lunch with a few friends. We decided to go to a pizzeria because it was the most convenient place. I got a cheese pizza and a glass of white wine. I am enjoying all types of wines here. Before I left, I was strictly a red wine person, but I find myself ordering more and more white wine. Regardless of what color it is, there is nothing like a nice glass of wine at 2:00 in the afternoon to wash down your meal. I will miss being able to go to a restaurant and order wine in the afternoon. 

After lunch, we went to go get some ice cream, and then we walked down to the beach. The water was absolutely beautiful. Also, there were beautiful views of the mountains and of the town. 

We took a tour of a castle in Colliure which also had beautiful views of the town. Since it is such a small place, many people only speak French. We had a tour guide who attempted to explain things in Spanish, but she only spoke as well as most of us speak. I enjoyed listening to her because I could relate to trying to explain things in a language in which I am not a native speaker. I find my Spanish getting better, but I still have trouble understanding and speaking in certain situations. Going to France was a whole other story because I couldn't understand anything that the people were saying in French, and I could only say about five words in their language. 

After we left Coullier, we went to another French town named Cecret. We found a beautiful church and spent some time walking through the streets. 

After we left France, we headed to a town in north-eastern Spain called Girona. The town is famous for its architecture and cathedral. We got to Girona Friday night and checked into our hotel. Then, I took a short nap and went out to dinner with a group of my friends. After dinner, I went back to the hotel and went to bed. The next morning, I woke up, had continental breakfast at the hotel, and then went on a tour of the city with the rest of the CIEE students. After the tour, we went out to lunch at a tapas restaurant. It was fun to sit in the sun, eat lunch, drink wine, and talk to my friends. We got ice cream afterwards and then went back to the hotel to take another nap. After our nap, I read some of the novel I am reading for my Realism and Naturalism course, talked to Jason on the computer, and then went out to dinner with the entire CIEE group. The dinner had already been paid for through the money we pay to participate in the program, so it was fairly fancy. I enjoyed a nice salad, duck, and pork loin followed by cheese cake. After dinner, I decided to go back to the hostel and go to bed so that I could wake up early the next day.


Sunday morning, we woke up and went to a small town called Besalu and then the Dali museum. I have too many pictures and things to say about the museum to add them to this post, so I will have to post again tomorrow. I am also leaving for Portugal tomorrow night which will be a great trip. Four days until I see my parents! 

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