Paris is a magical place. After checking in to the hostel we hopped on to the metro and headed for the Eiffel Tower. As we climbed up the steps to see the tower it was a couple minutes until the top of the hour and shortly the tower began to sparkle. Two years before I was in Paris and saw this but every time is amazing to watch.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
A big travel day today. Around 5am the bus arrived to pick us up for paris and we were on our way. Along the way we stopped in a little place called Champagne, France. This region is the only place in the world where champagne can be made, every where else it must be called sparkling wine. We took a tour of the Pommery Champagne House where we toured the some of the 12km of tunnels.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
On Tuesday we took a trip to Trier, Germany. We arrived at Porta Nigra (Black Gate) which is the the only city gate left standing in Trier from the Roman times. From Porta Nigra we took a tour of the city that lasted about an hour an a half. While I was interested in learning about Trier and I could have done so on the tour I felt as though I would enjoy my time in Trier if I wandered around and gave my self a tour. I followed the path of the group and occasionally joined for a couple of minutes to find out where the best place to wander next. Over all I was very happy with my decision. One piece of information that I discovered was that Karl Marx was born and raised in Trier. During the spring semester I took a class on the philosophy of Marx where we read Das Kapital, I knew that I would have to stop by his house which is now a museum. At the end of the tour I decided to grab some German food ( snichizel and wurst) and made my way to Marx's house. I did a self tour of the house and then made my way through a park where I stumbled upon some incredible graffiti. I was aware that Germany had a big street art scene and it was one of my goals to find some.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Strasbourg, France (day 1)
Our trip to Strasbourg was easily one of my favorite parts of our two weeks. The morning began with a bus ride that stopped in a small but beautiful French town. I had been in France two years earlier and really fell in love with the country and I was excited to be back. The French cuisine is on another level, especially my favorite pastry the Pain au Chocolate (chocolate croissant) later in the day we arrived in the city of Strasbourg and went on a boat tour. Unfortunately ended up in an inclosed boat which gave the feeling of being in a fishbowl, making the tour a bit less enjoyable. However it was on this boat ride that we discovered walking paths that went along the canals, and some canal boats that had been turned in to restaurants. Both of these discoveries would end up being an important part of our Strasbourg trip.
After checking in to the hostel a group of 4 including myself decided to go for a walk along the canal which was lined with flowers and other wild plants, making it a beautiful walk. We returned to the hostel and spends some time booking a trip to Germany.
From the moment that I saw the boat restaurants I knew that was the place I was going to have dinner. So when the large group gathered in the lobby of the Hostel I made the mistake of telling everyone where I was going. This meant that it was my job to lead the 20+ people to dinner. I don't particularly enjoy large groups and I feel that it is very important to observe and respect the local culture, this is something that several people on the trip made the mistake of overlooking, especially while in a big group.
Fortunately the night took a turn for the better. I was leading the group but I was also on a mission and I did not have time to deal with complainers. The path I took earlier lead to the area with the restaurants that I wanted to go to and when I went down the steps that took us away from the street to the path most of the group stopped because we were doing something out of the ordinary. The large group could have easily followed the street along the canal and that is what I expected to happen. It was not my intention to loose the group but thankfully it worked out that way. Just 5 of us made it along the path to the canal boat restaurants and had a wonderful dinner. We had a bottle of wine for the table and a great conversation. The night really could not have worked out any better.
Strasbourg (day 2)
It was my plan to wake up for sunrise at 6:30 with Sarah and Joe but I ended up with an extra hour of sleep. I made my way down the path once again to a small pastry shop for my breakfast. Strasbourg is a pretty small city and the cathedral is very easy to find, in fact it can be seen over the roofs of most other buildings. In this cathedral was a astronomical clock, Stanislas shared some knowledge with us about how it it very common for a circle to be divided in to twelve sections. This tour was brief since mass was going to begin shortly and so we left the cathedral in search of the next meal. On the way Rachel and I walked through some local food and craft markets. We stopped to admire some paintings when a gust of wind swept between the buildings, knocking several of the paintings from their stands. Nothing was damaged and the vendor, grateful for our effort to catch the fallen artworks begun talking with us, even through the artwork was expensive and it was clear that we could not afford to buy it. He saw that we were captured by a particular painting of a sunset and taught us how to say sunset in French (le couché du soleil). He also shared with us some knowlege about the wind which had blown the paintings over, this wind is known as la fuer and it comes from the mountains in Germany, just to the east of Strasbourg. It was a short but very nice conversation. Rachel and I found a small shop with sandwiches and took them
to a grassy area by the canal where we ate our lunch. Our lunch was so good that several of the local animals though they would try and get in on it and it was not long before we were surrounded by a swan and a dog. Aside from the uninvited guests this lunch was a perfect ending to Strasbourg. However there was one last adventure. Rachel and I made our way back to the cathedral to meet up with the group, with a couple of minutes to spare I decided to use the water closet... when I returned there was no one to be found. A little confused, but I had faith in my navigational skills to make it back to the hostel in 15 minutes. After wandering for about 10 minutes I was feeling pretty lost, there were no familiar land marks and time was running out. The only reference I had about my whereabouts was that I knew I had not crossed the canal yet meaning I would have to head north. With no compass and my phone dead I looked to the nearest flag pole for help. If it had not been for the short conversation with the street vendor I would not have known where the wind was coming from I would probably still be lost. However thanks to the vendor and his local knowledge about the windI was able to figure out how to make my way north to the canal and eventually the hostel.
On Sunday we took a trip to Remich, Luxembourg to visit the St Martin Caves, A local winery. We took a bus that brought us to the town of Remich just in time for lunch. While many of the others decided to sit down for a meal Charlie, Dr. Taylor, Sick Rick and Joe found a small food stand and indulged in some local cuisine (Luxembourg Grillwurst) and walk through the town. Following lunch we took a tour through the caves of the winery where they stored most of their wine. We learned that the Luxembourg region is known for their white wines. After the tour Joe, Charlie and I decided to take a leisurely stroll down the river and split a bottle of sparkling wine. The wine was particularly good and gave us a good excuse to slow the pace of our walk back towards the bus stop.