Wednesday, June 23, 2010


While Natali and I are here in Europe we want to make the most out of our time being here so we planned a weekend trip to Barcelona. I found some really cheap flights, some good prices on a few hotels, we rented a car and we explored Barcelona for the weekend. We stayed at 3 different hotels and I found something new about myself; I enjoy trying out new showers. The first thing I think when I walk into a hotel room is "I wonder if they have a good shower..." Yes, weird but true.

We flew into Spain around 9:00 Thursday night and were able to go out to eat and walk on the beach before heading to the hotel room. Friday we enjoyed the hotel room then headed to Barcelona in the rental car. We ended up checking into our hotel room on the way into Barcelona (Natali still thinks we were lost for an hour or so, I say we were just enjoying the scenery). We ate and by the time we actually got to Barcelona it was 6:00. Luckily it doesn't get dark until about 10:30 so we enjoyed our evening and the whole next day in Barcelona. Here are the highlights of our trip:

There is a street called La Rambla that is one of the most famous streets of Spain. Thousands of people just walk down it and go to the little shops or restaurants or just enjoy the "scenery" (You will see what I mean when I say scenery)

On one end of the road there is this huge statue thing called the Barcelona Colon Monument and supposedly Christopher Columbus is the statue on the top.

On the other end of the street is the Placa de Catalunya. It had fountains, statues, and what every good tourist attraction has, pigeons everywhere. If you look at the picture below you will see a kid glaring at the camera. He thought Natali was sneaking in the bushes to take a picture of him... I guess it didn't cross his mind that there was a castle and other cool things behind him.
Here is some of the "scenery" that can be found on Las Ramblas. There were human statues everywhere trying to get money in bizarre ways. I don't know how many people think, "When I grow up I want to be a human staute." There is nothing wrong with it, I just don't see how trying to sit in the same position all day without moving would be appealing.

I don't know if this was her actual pose of if she took a lot of smoke breaks but every time we saw her she was smoking in this position.

I gave this guy 50 cents and he went from statue to cowboy killer and shot me (Luckily his guns weren't loaded) and then he let me wear a hat and pose with him. There was a cowboy here too but the cowboy statue got a phone call.

We found a mime... except he didn't really do anything besides pose for a picture, take our money, and he didn't even say thank you.

We found these drawings. We couldn't believe how real they looked. Crazy.

We even found animal rights people there petitioning against the Running of the Bulls. I guess letting them run through our streets is much crueler than keeping them in a cage until they are fat enough to be taken to the slaughter house.

The Works of Gaudi
Antoni Gaudi was a famous architect and his works are some of the most famous in all of Barcelona and even in all of Spain.
This whole park was created and designed by Gaudi. There are houses, stairways, bridges, walkways, buildings, and monuments all designed by Gaudi. Pretty neat stuff.

This is another work of Gaudi. It is a huge cathedral that is still under construction. I guess it is a never-ending project. What is done looks really impressive but the pictures just don't do it justice. It is really huge and there is a lot of detail in the building.

Gaudi also built a bunch of houses and other buildings around Barcelona.
Natali makes fun of me because she says my fingers are disagreeing with each other in this picture.

This house was deffinately interesting. If you look at the balconies it is said that each balcony is a skull and the pillars are bones.

All of the houses and cathedrals we could have gone into for a fee but we decided not to. We deffinately regretted not going into one of the houses later. By the end of the day we were so bummed that we had left the houses without going in we decided we should go to something. We were by the Aquarium and so we decided on that. The aquarium just made us regret our decision even more because we paid more for the aquarium than we would have paid for one of the houses yet there really wasn't anything special about it.

We made the most out of the sitiuation still and had a good time. All of the member of Nemo were there to greet us.

This poor little guy was there too! We named him Herbert. I just found my new favorite fish.

There was a large tank you could walk through and see all the sharks and other fish. I wanted to see a shark eat a fish or something interesting but nothing happened.

On the way out of the aquarium there was a submarine and this guy wouldn't get out of my way... how rude.

Luckily on Friday night we decided to check this place out. There is a big castle on top of the hill that is also an art museum. The castle alone is pretty neat. What is the coolest part is what is below it. Natali and I would say this is the one thing you would HAVE to see if you ever went to Barcelona, and make sure you go at night!

Coming off the hill there are a series of waterfalls that leads to the Font Magica. It is this huge fountain that plays music along with a light show every 30 minutes. We took some amazing pictures but even those cannot capture the real feeling. Even the video doesn't get it either. Being there and seeing is the only way to really enjoy it. This is exactly the type of thing that Natali just can't get enough of. She loves music and beautiful things so putting the two together made it perfect for her. Natali loved it so much that we went back on Saturday night to enjoy it again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Well you haven't heard from me in a while so I thought I would do a little post about observations I have made while working/living here and things I have learned. Sorry it will probably be long so be warned. Now of course this may not be completely accurate and may only reflect my very small sphere of experience here in Paris so just bear in mind that I don't claim to understand everything :-).

  1. It serves no purpose to be rude. People will not like you more, they will not work harder to help you succeed, they will not respect you more etc. It's respectable to be strict, honest and to expect the best from people around you but there is just no reason to be rude. At work I have been blown away by how rude people are. I thought it was maybe just to me but it's not, it's to everyone. Of course not EVERYONE here is rude but many of them are. And I just wonder what they think they have to gain from such rudeness. I have also seen that rudeness is contagious so I am working hard to fight against the disease.
  2. When you become friends with a French person, they will be your friend for life...whether you want them or not :-). The French really value friendship. They are not as open as Americans though so they don't have as many friends. Typical Americans have hundreds of people they casually call "friends" but they don't really keep up with them. Like friends from high school. There are very few people that keep up with their high school friends after high school. However in France, once you are friends, you always are friends and you will do anything for each other. Example: Thomas and Christine often drive across France for like 8+ hours just to go to a friend's birthday party. That would pretty much be unheard of in the States.
  3. Not everyone wants the same things in life. Some people don't want a nice house if they can live in a dump without doing any work. Some people don't care about injustice. Some employers are not impressed when their employees work harder than is required. Some people don't want to advance in their job if it means more responsibility etc... I think sometimes I am ignorant and think that everybody wants what's important to me or what's important to Americans but it's just not true.
  4. French lives are just like American lives...except about 4 times slower. Really Americans are always in a rush and it's really in our blood, we can't get over it. We can try, but we will never have the patience of a French person. For example, a very fast meal here would be 40 minutes long but normally, meals take at least 2 hours. If you are eating at a restaurant at night, you need to allow yourself 3 hours before your next activity if you want to be on time. That's one thing Reed and I really struggle with.
  5. Not everybody wants to be American. I already knew this but it's a funny myth that seems to be very popular among Americans.
  6. When people don't have a personal interest in doing something, they either won't do it well or they won't do it at all. The perfect example can be found in restaurants in Paris. Tips are included in the bill (because it would not be fair for one waiter to earn more than another) so the result is thus a bunch of waiters who ignore you through your entire meal and couldn't care less if you enjoy your time there. People need motivation.
  7. For many (if not most) Americans, (from my observation) work is life. For most the French, work is some causal annoyance they have to do in order to live their real lives. I really like this about the French and I hope that like them I will remember where my priorities should lie. However, they do take this a little far. Everything is higher on the priority list for the French that their work. From what I have seen, in an 8 hour work day, they will generally take at least 3 hours worth of breaks between their lunch break and their coffee breaks. That's a little extensive people.
  8. Americans really are so loud. I know you have heard this but it's so true. Reed and I can pick out Americans from a mile away because we know they are the people we can't see yet but we can hear.
  9. Wanting a welfare state does not necessarily stem from actually caring about the welfare of people in the country. I have often heard people joke in politics that the liberals are the heart of the nation and the conservatives are the brain. This obviously stems from the fact that liberals are hardliners behind most welfare state policies. But after my experiences here in France (one of the most liberal countries in the world) I can't help but wonder if compassion and "heart" are not really the motivation for many liberals behind their policies. I witnessed a perfect example of this the other day when one of my very liberal friends quite rudely turned down an older woman who asked for a slice of the large pizza we were eating in the park. This friend continuously spouts strong ideals about equality and caring about our fellow men yet couldn't spare a slice of pizza for a very hungry stranger. And afterwards said if they want food they should go over to "blah blah blah" (I don't remember where but it's some gov't run shelter). In that moment I felt something I have observed a bit which is that people seem to use their support for a welfare state as a way of shifting the responsibility of charity to someone else and being able to live with themselves when they don't personally excersize any type of charity. As I said, these observations of course reflect my very small amount of experience and obviously can't be applied universally but it's something to think about. Though I have only given one example, this is not a rare occurence. It's no surprise that the poor and the homeless tend to spend their times in tourist areas because the average French person will surely not show them compassion. Now I, of all people, am not one to encourage free hand-outs for every person who chooses not to work but we should all still excersize charity in our lives...and charity does not mean pushing the poor off into the hands of someone else like some pest.
  10. In America we must avoid the mistake of Europe, we cannot let our fight against child abuse lead us to preventing parents from raising their children. Children need to be disciplined and they need parents who will teach them. Whether it's spanking, grounding, working or other punishments, something needs to be done to mold them into respectable, hard working citizens.
  11. The nature of mankind may not be as good as I thought. There is a movie I saw a long time ago called "War of the Worlds". I don't know if you have seen it or not but there are a couple scenes depicting people fighting brutally with each other for necessities they all want like cars and food etc. It depicts them as acting like animals where it truly is every man for himself with absolutely no regard to the immorality of his/her actions. I have always believed that if there ever was such a world crisis, people would not really act like this. However, when I see how people act under just some small crisis such as overcrowding on the metro, I wonder if I have placed too much faith in the good nature of mankind. Occassionally one of the metro lines will have a problem in the mornings resulting in all of the lines beind overcrowded. This means everyone will be late to work and will be sardined in the metro if they can even get in. I was shocked though at how inconsiderate people are. There are people trying to get off the metro and unable to because no one will risk moving out of the way in fear that they will lose their place on the metro. And even worse, when someone does step out to let someone off, they often DO lose their place because everyone else waiting to get on will push them out of the way. When I see pregnant women and 87 year old ladies tossed aside by teenage boys as they shove their way onto the metro, it's disheartening to witness where society has gone.
  12. When people don't have to pay for healthcare as they get it, they will be in to see the doctor for everything from fatigue to a canker sore.
  13. Ok that's all I wanted to say for now so if you made it through this post I guess I will let you in on another little secret: I got accepted into University of Utah law school. It was not my first choice obviously but it's a very good school. It's ranked 42nd in the U.S. (tied with BYU) and has the 3rd lowest professor to student ratio behind Yale and Stanford. So I guess it's a good thing I've gotten used to commuting everyday to Paris.