The_Bartons

This page contains posts by members of my family, starting with a trip we took to England, Spain, and France in the summer of 2019.

July 7th, 2019

Barcelona, June 14, 2019

by Thomas Barton, 10

I woke up to the sound of my dad telling me to wake up and get dressed for the long day ahead of us. I got up, got dressed and headed downstairs to the smell of fresh pastries and coffee for breakfast to start off the day. Today was jam packed with exciting and fun stuff because my dad took the whole day off from work. We woke up at about eight and were out of the house ready to start our adventure at about eight forty-five because we had to walk to Park Güell for a glance of how Gaudi lived in his exciting lifetime. His house was very different than most houses back then because it had only furniture he designed. The staircase was super cool because it was shaped like a dragon and had a dragon on the rail, he even designed his whole bathroom. He had a really cool garden in his backyard with trees that formed a tunnel with leaves draping over top.

After exploring every last nook and cranny in that house we left and headed toward our next activity, the Park Güell official tour. We were told all about the history of Park Güell and the reasoning on why they built it. The guy was speaking into a mic and our group had an earpiece that we listened in on while we he talked about the park. The guy wasn’t great with the microphone, because every minute he wood move the mic closer and blow my eardrums with how loud he was talking! I learned a lot about Park Güell in that tour and it had so much meaning to it. Park Güell was beautiful and it smelled so good because of all the plants and flowers blooming into their vibrant true identity. I really enjoyed walking around park Güell and if anyone goes to Barcelona you should definitely visit the park. I thought it was really cool that they built a local school in one of the old buildings from when Gaudi was alive. The kids weren’t out of school yet and we saw kids studying in that beautiful park all around and I was thinking the only place I have to study at right next to my school is in the middle of the road.

Once we finished the tour, we walked out of park Güell, and toward the Basilica (mom edit: Sagrada Familia). We had time to spare so we walked around looking for restaurants and looking inside shops until we found the restaurant that we were searching for. This restaurant was one of those restaurants that has all of the different food choices. My mom had a salad and the rest of us had a three course meal with summer salad, our main meal and dessert or coffee for my parents. We thought that the summer salad would be a salad with lettuce and vegetables like tomatoes and other common vegetables on salads. When we got it, there was potatoes, peppers, some other weird stuff, and tuna. In my family all the kids hate tuna, my dad sometimes likes it, and my mom loves tuna so my dad ate most of his food my mom ate a lot of my salad and none of the kids ate any salad. Then we got the second course and my second course was steak but the steak tasted like straight fat! I don’t know if anybody else enjoyed their second course and the third course just tasted like soft serve ice cream so there’s nothing to criticize.

After a dreadful lunch and lots of time wasting we were ready to walk to the Basilica. I was amazed it was humongous and it had so many different patterns, carvings, statues, writings etc. that I was pumped to hear the depressing voice on the audio tour. We had to wait in a long line, but I am really interested in this kind of stuff so I didn’t care. By the way this was also made by Gaudi which means we went to three Gaudi things that day, there’s a real theme going on here planners. This project took at least one hundred years and it will take about seven years from now until it is finished. There are eighteen huge towers, four on three of the sides, one on the other side, four inside of the four sides and one in the middle towering over the city of Barcelona. We got to see a model of the finished project and it is crazy how much detail is put into that thing. Gaudi designed everything on that building, inside that building and on top of that building. Unfortunately he only got too see the underground area finished before he got hit by a tram and died four days later. What I thought was cool was that every carving on that building represents a different story from the Bible. The doors were covered in clovers and plants on the backside and on the front side is an old stone door with different messages carved into it.

When I walked in I was astonished by the size and modern architectural masterpiece. It was very surprising because we went to many cathedrals that trip and none of them were modern at all and this was very modern. I was also very surprised because the exterior was old and medieval, but the interior was modern and new. My favorite part of the Sagrada Familia was the huge, colorful stained glass windows reflecting the bright sun glistening onto them. It was very cool to see the windows reflect bright colors onto the sleek white walls from the side so the air looked colorful and bright. We walked around listening to facts on our audio guides. We also saw an underground chapel where Gaudi’s crypt was showcased but we couldn’t get into that room. The opera had a huge loft with bleachers and music stands above all of the benches and the pulpit. We walked around and listened to the audio tour some more until we listened to the whole inside part and headed out the back door. We saw all of the carvings on the backside of the Sagrada Familia and went into the museum. Once we got bored of the museum we left the Sagrada Familia and found ourselves a taxi.

The taxi driver drove us to our rental house and we picked up our suitcases and drove to our hotel in a different part of Barcelona. We dropped our luggage and went straight to the Picasso museum. My mom was excited, I just didn’t want to listen to an audio tour but once again we had audio tours talking into our ears at all times. I thought it would be kind of cool to see the really famous paintings but it turned out to there was no famous paintings in there. I also thought that it was interesting to see Picasso’s growth and technique throughout the paintings. I don’t really know if I liked the museum but I probably didn’t know because I’ve seen so much other great art this trip.

After walking through the whole museum we started to get hungry and walked down to find a restaurant and get a drink. We stopped at a nice outdoor Mediterranean restaurant and my whole family got a drink. I was hungry but you don’t eat until you’re going to starve to death when you are in Spain so we didn’t eat. We finished up our drinks and headed toward the beach to see how cold water will be in Los Palamos. The water was very cold for the summertime but I’m also used to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida so the water is colder to me. We walked on the beach walk for a long time until our parents agreed that we should find a restaurant. We were in the middle of nowhere by then so it was a long walk back to the hotel. The reason we were going to the hotel is we needed our jackets and there was a lot of food by our hotel. By then all of us were very hungry and we found a nearby restaurant with decent food. The food was okay but it wasn’t great, and after dinner we once again just crashed when we got to the hotel ready to go to bed.

June 28th, 2019

Barcelona, June 13, 2019

by Thomas Barton, 10

That day all of us were super tired so we slept until 10:00 AM, which is really saying something because my mom wakes up at 6:30 AM everyday. My dad, Isabela, and I got breakfast for everyone at a variety of bakeries on the main street. We got coffee for the parents and a few different types of Spanish empanadas and croissants. After breakfast my mom, my sisters and I walked to Main Street and got a taxi ride to the gondola station. We got to the gondola station after a pleasant ride around the part of Barcelona that we had not seen yet. We saw an old castle that was turned into an art museum and an old bull fighting colosseum that was turned into a shopping mall. Once we got to our destination, we waited in a short line compared to the lines we had been experiencing all trip and entered the gondola. The gondola ride was really cool because we got to see the whole city and the city’s famous landmarks. Once we got to the top of the mountain we got off the gondola and walked up a big stairwell up to an old Spanish fort.

Once at the top of the stairwell we saw the cannons they would use to fight with and other old artifacts from the fort. The fort had a trench all the way around the whole base that was shaped in order for a moat to fit inside of it. Inside the trench was beautiful flowers, vines and vibrant colors that I was sure my grandpa would have loved to take pictures of. He was a great photographer and was always looking for interesting and out of the ordinary things to take pictures of. We walked across a really old drawbridge, got tickets, watched a short documentary about the history of the place, and walked up some stairs to the main level. Up there was a courtyard and a huge balcony outside of the courtyard and the view was super pretty. We saw holes for arrows and weapons to shoot through the walls and covers for protecting the spaniards from the enemy. There was one more level so we walked up a spiral staircase to the top story.

The Bartons taking too many pictures.

The Bartons taking too many pictures.

This was cool to see because my mom pointed out the different things we would be doing while we were in Barcelona, so I got an idea of our whole Barcelona visit. We could see the ocean, downtown, islands, the FC Barcelona stadium, factories, so basically you could say we saw it all.

After many pictures we started to get hungry and we saw a cafe in one of the old rooms so we thought it would be a good idea to eat at the fort. Margaret ordered a tri-colored salad without tomatoes so it was two colored salad and it was just pesto, avocado, and mozzarella. Isabela and my mom ordered a salad and coffee and I ordered a panini and ate a lot of Isabela’s salad and my mom ate a lot of my panini. Once we were finished with lunch we left the fort and walked on the sidewalk down toward the first place we got on the gondola. On the way down there was a bar on the side of the mountain where we got ice cream and water.

Bartons eating ice cream.

The Bartons eating ice cream.

A little bit lower down we could see two big pools, one with lanes and professional equipment and the other with different high dives which also looked professional. There was no one in the pools but there was a bunch of people tanning on the pool deck in their swim suits and all I wanted to do was jump in that refreshing pool but I didn’t have a swim suit, I was outraged. After we finished our cold scrumptious ice cream we walked the rest of the way down to the original location.

We just kept walking talking about old memories and laughing at different stories that either our mom told us or that we remembered from when we were small kids. We passed by a lot of art and old buildings on our way to the Miro museum. We had to walk through a whole school of kids to get to that museum because a school let out right in front of us. After finding our way through the maze of scrambling kids we got to the Miro museum. Of course while walking around looking at the different art pieces we had to have the very common two words an AUDIO TOUR. My mom loves her audio tours because she likes to know all the details about all the artwork, which takes a really long time. Audio tours are sometimes interesting but the voices on those thing are really depressing and fake. Miro was very different than other artists he wanted to make special art pieces that stand out, he even lit an art piece on fire to make it stand out. We walked through the museum admiring the unique forms of art and patterns. After many art pieces we walked out of the Miro museum into the smell of grass, food and cigarettes.

The Bartons walking, walking past graffiti.

The Bartons walking, walking past graffiti.

We walked even more passing tons of graffiti and old buildings until we got to the square. We went to the main square that my mom remembered from her past experiences in Barcelona. We then walked down the typical Europe square with markets and restaurants and a bunch of people hustling around from every which direction. I feel like Dory from Finding Nemo because we walked so much, saying we just kept walking, just kept walking, just kept walking. But anyway we walked until my mom stopped us at a huge market with fresh goods telling my brain that I need to walk inside, so we walked in. We looked around the market and ended up buying some fresh fruits and chocolate covered strawberries which I hadn’t had in forever.

Once we were done walking around the market we continued down the road of restaurants and shops looking around enjoying the Europe vibes. We then started to get hungry and sat down at a restaurant that seated you in the middle of the square like all the other restaurants so we got to enjoy our outside dinner. My mom and I ordered a few different plates of tapas, including shrimp, cheese, salami, chorizo, an actual tri-colored salad, etc..My mom ordered a sangria which was a very common word in Barcelona at the restaurants because my parents loved their sangrias. My sisters ordered a margarita pizza to share and we ordered another big salad to share between the four of us.

Plaza in Barcelona off La Rambla

Plaza in Barcelona off La Rambla

Once our stomachs were satisfied with food we paid and walked toward the metro station. We bought tickets and I didn’t count for one because I wasn’t old enough to count. There was people in front of us that went through the big gate but the gate wouldn’t close so we were trying to make it close even when we backed up five steps it wouldn’t close so we ended up getting a free metro ride. We walked up the stairs and back to our rental house. I was so tired by the end of the day because we had walked like nine miles around town that day. My dad was at home working all day so he and my mom went out and did whatever they do by their seIves. I was ready for bed but I wanted take a shower with my last bits of energy, so I took a shower and passed out on my bed.

June 27th, 2019

Barcelona, June 12, 2019

by Thomas Barton, 10

We walked off the plane after an impact landing on the Barcelona Airport runway then waited a long time according to my patience to get off the plane into the exciting Barcelona air. We walked onto the second airport shuttle bus and rode to the terminals. We were greeted by a long miserable customs line and chose between two different exits. Of course we soon figured out that we picked the line that was eight times slower, so we asked the security man next to us if we were allowed to switch to the faster line and he said that we couldn’t switch lines because we already committed to the long line. Later we got really lucky and was let first into a new line that just opened up in half the time the rest of the line would have taken. If they let the people behind us go into the newly opened line my mom would have probably exploded. We got through customs and went to find our bags at the baggage claim which had stopped going around because it started an hour before we got there and was done because we waited in customs for so long. My dad walked around the baggage belt and found everything but one suitcase so he started to panic. He walked around trying to find it again and we were very relieved that we all just passed by it and we didn’t have to wait any longer. We then walked to the taxi station got into the car and set off too our rental house.

To our surprise the woman that we rented the house from was standing outside the alleyway that lead to the house. She was ready for us with nothing to do do for entertainment. When I saw the alleyway I thought the house was going to be low quality because it looked kind of dirty. Then after that I saw the door which looked like the door of a shed so this was nothing like what I had expected. Then she unlocked the door and we walked up some steps to where the house was. I was very surprised because the house was really pretty, it had flowers everywhere and it smelled really good outside. The lady didn’t speak English so my parents were the only ones that could understand what she was fully saying. That left us to go explore the house by ourselves. The house was very spacious and it had a room for everyone which was really nice because we could do our own thing. My dad set up his workspace and everyone unpacked and settled in to their new rooms.

Thomas at Güell Park.

Thomas at Güell Park.


Once that was done my mom, Margaret and I went down to the Main Street and looked for coffee shops and restaurants. We didn’t find any restaurants but we did find a FC Barcelona shop so Margaret and I both got FC Barcelona mini soccer balls so we could practice our footwork and juggling skills. Before we went home we also visited Park Güell which was beautiful because of the view of the whole city, and the smell of the luscious spring blooming flowers vertically snaking higher and higher up the wall. The architecture was really well thought out and interesting to look at. The architect Gaudi was trying to make a big nature-friendly neighborhood with sixty to eighty houses but the plan failed because the location was too far from the city where everybody worked at the time. The beautiful neighborhood and architecture was then bought and turned into a park instead of a neighborhood. We walked around the park some more and explored the different views, then walked down the hill back to our rental house.

We rested at the house some more until ten when we decided we were going to go eat dinner. We would have eaten earlier but my dad was glued to the fact that restaurants aren’t open at seven or eight when we Americans eat. By then my mom had found a restaurant and we were all starving, the app that you call taxis with was broken so we had to hail a taxi from the street. It was really hard to find a five person taxi so we went in separate taxis, My mom and I in one and Margaret, Isabela, and my dad in one. My mom and I had a driver that wasn’t too nice; he wasn’t rude or offensive but he didn’t like the place we were going because it was complicated to get to. When we paid, he threw the receipts out the window one in a tree and one on the road. The rest of the family got lost in their taxi because there were three restaurants named that same thing, so when they arrived we were all starving. This place was all Spanish food so we ended up getting ten different plates of tapas to share amongst all of us. It was so delicious especially because all of us were so hungry and we hadn’t had tapas since we moved from Washington DC.

We thought it would be a good idea to walk through Park Güell and across the mountain back to our rental house because there was a park entrance by the restaurant. My mom’s GPS was telling us to go a certain route through the park but part of the park was closed so we had to improvise our way through the dark park. We went down a long staircase to this road in the middle of nowhere which made it a lot harder to navigate home. We then found a familiar street after twenty minutes of walking and walked back easily. Once we got home we were tired, full and ready to go to sleep we all settled down, I read then fell fast asleep.

June 26th, 2019

London, June 8 to June 11, 2019

Barton children in London.

Barton children in London.

(In which Isabela Barton, 15, writes an email to her grandmother that she typed on her phone.)

Hi Grandma,

Hope you are doing well!! The Barton family has had a very fun time in London so far. After a ridiculously long flight from Austin that took 9 hours, we arrived at the airport. I tried as hard as I could to sleep on the plane, as that was my plan to make the time pass quicker, but I am so bad at sleeping so that that didn’t work all that well. That means that I faced the 9th with 5 hours of sleep I had gotten the previous night. I was running on 5 hours of sleep for almost two full days.

Anyway, that first day that we were there, we rode the subway (or the tube as they call it in England) for an hour before arriving at Piccadilly Circus. That was where we were going to be staying for 3 nights. We dropped off our belongings and went immediately to the Tower of London. My mom was very set on informing us about all of the weird family tree stuff that is going on between the generations of royalty in England for hundreds of years. There, we got the AUDIO TOUR (which you will begin to see is a very common theme) and LEARNed all about the crown of jewels, executions, and the lives of the soldiers that work there.

All of the kids were super tired because we weren’t able to sleep on the flight and our parent weren’t because they slept the entire flight (of course), so the only logical thing to do is frolic around the city without really knowing where we are going before finally stopping at the London Bridge Experience to LEARN about the London Bridge. The lady running the line got into a little argument with the people across from us (there were two lines) and her group had five people as well. The people across from us got in and my parents were OUTRAGED because we had been waiting there for 30 minutes in the cold windy London weather. They basically argued and argued and argued until they finally got the lady to let us in. The actual “experience” was fine. We just LEARNed about the Vikings and the early building and function of the London Bridge. On that one we didn’t have an AUDIO TOUR, but my mom was a little distraught that one wasn’t available to us. I won’t bore you with the details because you read a lot of books and I’m sure you know everything there is to know. A part of the tour was also a haunted house walk through which would have been scary at least for Thomas because he’s never been to one before, but the people in front of us kept screaming right before the scary parts got to us. Nonetheless a scary guy with a chainsaw chased us for a little while so it was pretty terrifying.

Bartons in the rain in London.

Bartons in the rain in London.

For dinner that night, we went to a pub and Thomas fell asleep on the table in the restaurant. My mom thought it was so funny that she instagramed it (check her out @tanyaeclement on instgram.com) Guess what Grandma, I SLEPT 14 HOURS!!!!! The second day we were all so exhausted that we slept until noon because of the night before. We walked through St James Park and were going to go into the Church of War Rooms I think but they had too big of a line. The next option we had was Westminster Abby where we bought a (you guessed it) AUDIO TOUR. The line was 50 minutes long and my dad had to work because all of his colleagues were waking up in Austin. The church was cool and I actually enjoyed the AUDIO TOUR. It was very informative and I LEARNed a lot about the line of royalty and their relationships with each other. Because we woke up so late, we didn’t have a lot of time to do anything else so we just walked around and relaxed at our place until it was time to meet my mom’s good friend from college…PAM! Pam was very nice.

Barton London bike ride.

Barton London bike ride.

The next day was the day where we really knocked out a lot of touristy stuff. To begin with we went on a 10 mile bike ride all around the city and our guide gave a nice description of every place we stopped at. During that tour we stopped at Buckingham Palace and saw the changing of the guards. There were so many people, though, that we couldn’t really see anything, but we did catch a glimpse of some synchronized marching and horses. The rest of the ride continued as you would expect except that another lady on the tour had a broken bike and sneakily switched with mom. She decided to be the bigger person and not switch them back which I thought was very noble. Good job Mom!!! My mom has booked tickets on the London Eye right after that so after a street food debacle where no one took credit cards, the four of us rushed across town to make our time slot. The ride was pretty cool. We got super high and had a really good view of the whole city. Everyone on that thing was taking selfies and they looked funny to say the least. Immediately after, we were walking to the Tate Modern museum we stopped to watch this street performer who basically stalled for 20 minutes before telling everyone that we HAD to give him money. At the museum none of the kids were really into any of the artwork because it had been a long day, but my mom seemed to enjoy it which is good.

Bartons at the Phantom of the Opera.

Bartons at the Phantom of the Opera.

The day finished with us enjoying the Phantom of the Opera in theatre. My brother wasn’t interested in the first part pre intermission, so much so that he fell asleep. The storyline picked up in the second part though and I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it after that, no matter how much he tries to deny it. That was pretty much the end of our London adventure apart from riding the train to the airport.