Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Moien!

I left off last time with the trip to Nancy, and the night that followed. As a disclaimer, I realize that writing about every day would be nuts, and I do not plan on doing that, however, the first few days, with all orientation and trips, and no class, are packed with things to do and write about. Therefore, I write about every day. Onward!


Today was a couple more boring speeches, then Luxembourg City. (As a side note, Luxembourgers call it either Luxembourg or “the city”, not Luxembourg City. As Crici explained, it’s the only real city in Lux, so calling it as such is perfectly fine.) We first toured Differdange for about 10 minutes, saw nothing I hadn’t already seen on Guy’s tour, and it was on to the train station for a 40 minute ride to the city. (As another side note, the public transportation in Europe is amazing, the trains are nice, they run EXACTLY on time, and the buses are the same. As an added bonus, students get a Jumbo-Kaart(Jumbo Pass), 50 euros for unlimited rides on all Lux public transportation.) Anyway, we got to Lux, and it is frankly the most incredible city I have been ever seen. Words cannot describe it. Look at the pictures on webshots, and you still will not have any idea how incredible this city is. It is a medieval castle and fortress, turned into a city. I have not the writing skill nor the vocabulary to describe what makes this city so special. I am going to stop trying, since all I can do is make it sound much less special than it really is.


Once the tour was over, I wandered through the city, deliberately lost for an hour or two, just seeing what there was to see, knowing I had a map in my pocket and could find where I was quite easily. I wandered down partially into the valley on the outskirts of the city and sat quietly with a Sprite, people watching and relaxing. I eventually went back to the train station where I found an English language newspaper, and was absolutely astounded to find what had happened since I had been gone. Apparently, as soon as I leave, an entire section of the country descends into anarchy. I wandered into a few MUDECers and we were sitting at a café reading this and barely believing it. Eventually they headed to some bar and I headed over to the train station to meet up with John, Daryl, Justin, and Guy. We then headed to the fair, which I will not try in Luxembourgish. Guy made us go on a ride that made me cry, then we headed off for some mettwursts that must have been a good foot long and oh so delicious. We continued to wander around the fair, going on rides, munching on the food and drink that was available, then went to the train station to go home. We missed our train by 15 seconds, and decided to try to make a connection by taking another train. That didn’t work, since it was too late for the trains to run normally, so we ended up taking a taxi back to Oberkorn. When we got back we planned on going to bed, but Guy suggested a card game, and that turned into 2 hours of cards before we finally crashed to end a fun and long day.


The final day was the “War Tour” for my group. We headed to the American Military cemetery outside Luxembourg for the first part. It was spectacular. The memorial was very impressive, a large obelisk type building in the middle that had a memorial, along with slabs of rock with maps of the war and explanations of the liberations of Luxembourg by the Americans. The cemetery itself was Arlington Jr. There were rows of crosses, in no particular order of rank or seniority, merely alphabetical. The only grave set apart from the others was Patton, due mainly to the large number of people that come to see it. Another interesting feature was that instead of crosses, Jewish soldiers had a Star of David. The next stop was the German cemetery, which was accessed through a trail through some woods, then through a small stone doorway. The cemetery itself was smaller, hainvg been purchased by the Germans, whereas the Luxembourg government donated the land to the Americans. There were more German dead however, so each cross represented 4 soldiers. There was also a large mass grave in the back, something else the Americans didn’t have. The American headstones said “Here rests in honored glory, a comrade in arms known but to God” for unknown soldiers, whereas the german headstones said “Ein Deutscher Soldat”, literally, “A German Soldier”. At times, there would be two unkown soldiers with the same cross, so it would just say “Zwei Deutsche Soldaten” or “Two German Soldiers”.


This was the last part of our orientation, so there was a group dinner planned at an Italian restaurant outside Lux City. Raymond Manes, our intrepid guide for the day, decided that we should take the scenic walk to the restaurant, instead of the bus dropping us in front of it. There followed a 45+ minute walk that had to be 4 or 5 kilometers. Once we got there, however, things quickly got better. The dinner was excellent, the tiramisu for dessert was even better. We probably pissed off the whole restaurant, however, since 50-60 Americans in one place become incredibly loud. Regardless, a good time was had by all, and we got back to the chateau without further incident, and went to bed in anticipation of the first day of classes Monday.
Since classes have started, I will not be sending exhaustingly detailed messages about every day any more. The emails will be more infrequent, probably detailing one or two weekend trips at a time, along with anything else that happened during the week. All y’all need to not be shy, and don’t hesitate to email me back. I would feel more loved if you had questions or comments.


Matt

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