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Published: November 4th 2009
Cathedral de Strasbourg
It is immmense. One of the tallest buildings in Strasbourg, and has been for a loooong time.
I think I shall start with Strasbourg. Strasbourg is the city furthest to the east in France. Directly east of it is Germany. There is a lot of German influence in Strasbourg because of this reason. Some of the oldest houses in France can be found here, and many of them are traditionally German. I did not go with my host family, but rather, some friends of the family. They were very nice, and we spent the day touring the city with their son Pierre, who goes to the university there. The most beautiful thing I saw was the Cathedral de Strasbourg
. It is an immense cathedral that is one of the highest points in the city, and has been for over 1000 years! If anyone might recall, Prez Obama was in Strasbourg. Oh yeah, thats right. I dont remember when it was, but everyone there kept reminding me, so it was a big deal, I guess 😊. This was also the day I found out that my camera was broken. I dont know how or when, but this was the day I happened to find out. It was not fun. Forgive me for not having very many pictures of the
BEAUTIFUL city. All the houses in the center of the town look like this.
city, but I couldnt see WHAT I was taking a picture of, so it was difficult to get a good picture. Anyways, it was a very rainy day, and my pants got wet because I stepped in a puddle, but I was told that rain is a common thing in Strasbourg, and that I shouldnt run across the street next time. hahaha!! 😉
The next stop was PARIS. La Ville des Lumières
or "City of Lights". I went on the 17th of October with my host parents and one of my exchange friends from Ecuador, Carla Cueva. She had never been to Paris, and I was excited to be there for her first walk through the city. I had been to the city once before, two years ago with the French class at RLHS. We spent three days in that marvelous place, but on this particular day, we only got about 10 hours. It was all we could do to stay awake, because we awoke at 4 in the morning in order to catch the bus. We just barely made it in that aspect. It is normally a three hour drive to Paris, but we made it in almost
Dinner Before Departure
This was the restaurant at the Gare SNCF in Metz. We all had a lovely dinner :)
four, because we stopped for breakfast. The people on the bus consisted of my host parents, my host uncle, aunt and cousin, and the rest were students and teachers from my host mom's middle school. The most amazing thing was that as soon as the bus was parked, all of the kids got off of the bus, said that they would all be back by 7 PM, and left. No chaperones were provided. It was very strange, because Carla and I are both 18, and WE got the chaperones, and not the eigth and ninth graders. Oh well.
The first place we went was the Musée du Louvre. Back in the day, it was a fortress, then a castle, and now a museum, so it has seen its share of humanity. we stayed there for two hours and it was amazing. We got in free because we could prove that we were high schoolers and went to a school in France. We, of course, saw as many tourist attractions as we could. We started with the entire exhibit for ancient Egyptian artifacts. That was pretty cool. Next, after over an our in ancient Egypt, we decided to go see
Le Gare SNCF
"Gare" meanst "train station". This is the sign welcoming you into the gare in Metz.
two other major tourist attractions? The first being La Jaconde
or the Mona Lisa. As many of you may have heard, she is very small. About 3 feet tall and two feet wide. She has a whole wall all to herself and at least ten security guards. She is protected by at least three or four inches of bullet proof glass, and I'm fairly certain that the Queen of England couldnt have better protection. The next stop was the Vénus de Milo
. The famous woman with no arms was surrounded by what seemed like the entire world. I heard at least four different languages and three varieties of English just within fifty feet. The very last thing we saw was the inverted glass pyramid. Carla wanted to see it because she is a Dan Brown fan, like me ( he wrote the Da Vinci Code).
Back outside, we saw the statue of Lous XIV, which, apart from the great glass pyramid, dominated the square. The statue is perfectly in line with the Champs-Elysées, and therefore, perfectly in line with the Arch of the Louvre, L'Arc de Triomphe
, the obelisk, and the Arc de Défense
We then took the métro
Boredom Before Departure
Yeeah, I was bored, so Carla braided my hair. Laura said I looked like Pippi Longstockings. I was surprised she knew who that was, but then she told me that Pippi was invented in Sweeden. Tough cookies hahaha :D
to a station that was further down the Champs-Elysées and we tried to find a restaurant. We met up with my host uncle, cousin, and aunt, and finally the boyfriend of my host sister, who lives in Paris. We all ate at a restaurant a block or so away from the Champs-Elysées. After lunch, we parted ways and Carla and I went with my host dad on a long walk. We walked down the famous avenue and got pretty close to the Arc de Triomhe
before we turned down another street.
We eventually reached the Tour Eiffel
and had to take some pictures in the middle of the street. We finally ended up on a famous bridge called Pont Neuf
, which means "New Bridge". It is the oldest bridge in Paris. I will explain. About 400 years ago, all bridges were made of wood. On these bridges, people built their houses and held markets on them. Over time, however, many burned down and killed people. The people of Paris finally built the first stone bridge in the city, which they called Pont Neuf
. We crossed this bridge to get to the île de la cité
, or the "island of the
Berlin Central Station
My new camera takes amazing pictures!! This is the first I took after getting off the train in Berlin!!
city". On this island is the famous Cathedrale de Notre Dame
. Known throughout the world as one of the most beautiful churches, it is famous because of French author Victor Hugo, who wrote the book of the same name ("Cathedrale de Notre Dame"). He wrote the book because the higher ups in Paris wanted to tear the church down and build something else, because they believed that it was too old. He wrote the book based on true events, and the people of Paris ran to save the church. It is extremely beautiful inside and out, and the famous Rose Windows were breathtaking. Another funny story: we were approaching Notre Dame and Carla turns to me and says (in English) "I like this church! What is it?" My host dad almost passed out with laughter when I translated for him. Carla had thought it was bigger. I reminded her that it wasnt Strasbourg. Not THAT big.
Finally, we met back at the bus, but since my host uncle was the driver, it took a while to get to the bus, so we had a late start, AND got stuck in traffic. But it wasnt all bad, because we got
More of Berlin Central
I liked it! After we got off the train, we took the métro (but I'm sure thats not what they call it in German) to our hostel.
to see the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling. At the top of every hour after eight o'clock for ten minutes, all of the lights on the tower flash and sparkle. It is very cool. because of the lateness, we didnt get back until 1 in the morning. It was very late and we took Carla home. She left most of her stuff at my house, as usually happens when one spends the night, but I got it all back to her, so its okay.
Berlin was freakin AMAZING. My host parents went to Stockholm while I was there, so that they could visit my host sister. They left the day before I did, therefore, I stayed at Laura's house. She is an exchange student from Finland and in my class at school. The train left on Saturday late at night. All the students in the district met up at a restaurant just outside the train station and we were fed by the Rotary. We were joined by two extra people who I later learned were Rotex. The leader of our pack (haha!) was named Jean and he's French. He spoke French, German and English, and he was out
Its a MAP!
I like maps, they are so helpful. This is the map of all the metro lines in Berlin.
translator for the trip. Dinner was lovely. I had pasta and mousse au chocolat. Afterwards, we waited for about an hour for our train. We got a night train, so it had curtains. This is the only difference that I could find when I looked at it. It had no beds, only "cabins" with enough room for about six people. We were assigned cabins, but people moved right away, and so we ended up with about ten people in ours. It was a seven hour trip to Berlin. No one slept very well.
When we arrived in Sunday morning, we immediately went to the hostel. Check in wasnt official until 2 PM, so we put our bags in a room and it was locked by the staff. Next, we had breakfast, but it was more like lunch. The Rotary told us that lunch was the only meal that we had to pay for. After brunch, we all walked about a kilometer and ended up at this small place called "Berlin by Bike". We proceeded to take a 4-hour tour of the Berlin wall and some of the other intiresting things. We saw one of the few remaining original towers
This is Chris, from Springfield MO. He liked the gorilla :) It was just sitting on the sidewalk outside of a building. They had some pretty cool contemporary art in Berlin. This was one of them. Its constructed entirely of scrap metal.
from when Berlin was two separate cities. The man who ran the tower was the brother of the first victim of the Wall. His brother was 24 years old when he was shot trying to escape East Berlin. After the bike ride, we ate dinner and walked around Berlin some more. We saw many important buildings, including the capitol building. We all returned to the hostel and I went to bed right away, but most people stayed up until ungodly hours of the morning and talked. I really loved sleeping, because on the train it was difficult.
Monday, the next day, we all awoke and ate breakfast at the hostel. Afterwards, we headed a little ways out of town to the Castle Charlottenburg. It was an audio tour and it lasted a little over an hour. The gardens outside were spectacular. One funny thing about the maker of the castle, Friedrich the somethingth, loved French things, and the audio tour said he spoke and wrote French better than German. Go him!!! Most of the place had been ravaged and burned during WWII, so the audio tour was constantly reminding us that much of the castle is a reconstruction. After
I hate CBS?
I thought this was very funny. Someone REALLY must have hated CBS, because this was a fairly large building :D
a beautiful stroll around the palace gardens, we went to a different part of Berlin and had a little walking tour. We passed Checkpoint Charlie and got our passports stamped. We ate dinner at a place that looked more like a pub than anything else, and yes, we all broke the drinking rule by each having one glass of the beer that is specially made in Berlin. After the dinner, we got dessert and then a small shot of alcohol that was also a specialty of the city. It wasnt very strong, but many of the asian students didnt like it and gave it to the Rotarians XD. After dinner, we returned to the hostel and I didnt sleep until about 3 AM because I stayed up and played pool with Chris and Nick. The Aussie (Nick) is pretty good, but then again, I'm horrible at billiards.
The next morning at about 9:00, we all had to get our rears in gear and clear out. We packed up everything and locked our suitcases in a big room and ate breakfast. After breakfast, we went to a hands-on museum about the Berlin Wall. We had 3 1/2 hours to discover
This is another scrap metal statue, but this is a giant cockroach, and its coming out of a wall. It was about 20 feet in the air, and scared the poop out of me at first XP
a miniscule museum, so I walked with Chris and Nick for a few blocks, and then we rode a random metro train to the end of the line and back again. It was a very good way to waste time. We headed back to the hostel afterwards and got our bags, then we all went to the train station. Our last meal in Berlin was pizza from Pizza Hut. That one however, was a choice. We split up into groups of five and the Rotary gave each group €50 to spend between us. We ate nasty pizza because we missed it (they have the REAL pizza here, none of the fake nastyness to which I am accustomed). We also stopped by a Virgin Megastore and looked around to kill some time. The train left in a timely fasion, but this time there were BEDS!! Six people per room, six beeds per room, three blankets per room. It got really cold in the night because someone left the window open in the hallway. But we made it work. We arrived back in Metz, the capital of my region at about 6:30 in the morning on Wednesday the 28 of October. It
Berlin on Bike
All of our bikes had baskets, and all of the baskets said this! We were SOOOOO touristy on the first day haha! Thats, okay, because at least no one got run over :D
was a cold morning. We ate in a café, said our goodbyes, and then parted ways.
Now, some people have been asking me questions, and I shall answer them the best that I can. YES they use military time here. For everything. People here do NOT clean up after their dogs. YES everyone eats bread. NO not everyone is named Pierre (I think I've only met one so far). YES I HATE SCHOOL. If there are any more questions, I will try to answer them the best I can 😊
I had a lot of fun on these trips!!! I am so incrediby glad that I got to have these experiences. I hope to update again soon, but I dont know what will be very intiresting until Christmas!! I'll try to find something 😉Well, I love getting everyones messages, it makes me feel special :P Take care everyone!! BISOUS! (kisses)
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