Monday, October 17, 2005

Luxembourg 14.10.05

Since this weekend was a designated rest weekend, we didn’t go anywhere strenuous. Friday Guy took us shopping for shoes and books. John spent forever looking for shoes but everything was too expensive, however, I got a pair of slip on dressy shoes that I can wear with my suit or with jeans and a dark shirt and look very European. We also hit an Italian grocery store that had lots of noodles, olive oil, wine, and meat. Guy bought some stuff there, and we headed toward Luxembourg. We went to Chapter 1, an English bookstore near Luxembourg, and I bought a Phillip Pullman book while Guy bought several hilarious greeting cards. My favorite that I saw there was one of a chicken and an egg laying in bed (the chicken with a cigarette) that says “Well I guess that solves THAT old question.”

Anyway, after this, we told Guy we wanted to treat him to dinner, so we headed to the Gare Centrale/Hauptbahnoff to meet Meredith, then it was off to the Taj Mahal restaurant again. This time John didn’t get the meal that said ‘(HOT)’ next to it. A good time was had by all, and Guy really liked the nan and the chai. We wandered through the Petrusse Valley for a while afterwards, then headed home. Guy gave Meredith a ride home, and we finally realized that she really does live in the middle of nowhere, which is why it takes her like 2 hours to commute to the Chateau.

Strasbourg 15.10.05

I woke up early (8.00) and hopped on the 9.00 train to Luxembourg. Meredith and I had decided to go to Strasbourg (its in France) as a day trip. The main attraction was the Notre Dame Cathedral, although there was other stuff that sounded interesting as well. When we got there, we decided on a plan of action, or inaction. The cathedral was on the other side of the city, and we were hungry. Therefore the plan was to wander through the city without actually trying to get to the cathedral, just hopefully heading in the general direction. On the way we hoped to find food as well as see whatever other sights there were to see. Little did we know that Strasbourg could very well mean “City of Many Kickass Cathedrals.” It seemed that every other block or so was a ridiculously ornate church.

One of the cathedrals we went inside looked somewhat old and beat up on the outside, and was old and beat up on the inside as well. However, that couldn’t hide the splendor of the inside. (As we walked in, we saw 3 MUDECers, which was just a ridiculous coincidence.) It looked like it hadn’t been restored in a really long time, if ever, and was incredibly ornate, and it looked very original. It was sort of a hodgepodge of styles, and there was a small self-guided tour helped by a double sided sheet of paper that said what to look for. It had an alter toward the center of the church that was very ornate, with paintings and sculptures showing various scenes from the bible on it, and above it was the coolest looking organ I have ever seen. It was decorated very lavishly, and arranged in a way so as to make it look very majestic. Beyond that was almost another church within a church and it had what seemed to almost be a miniature version of the alter in St. Mary’s cathedral in Krakow, with folding wings. Every wall in the church had paintings or sculptures of scenes from the bible. Most had to do with the passion, but I also picked out Abraham being stopped from sacrificing Isaac. This was one of the best interiors of a cathedral I have seen. The authenticity gave it a cool feel that a perfectly restored place like St. Mary’s could not match.

After wandering around some more we decided that if we didn’t find food soon, we would die of hunger. However, finding food was not as easy as expected. We were hoping to find a cheap pizzeria, since they have the best bang for buck. We never found one, but we wandered past one restaurant that had picture menus (important, as our combined language talents didn’t include any French), and didn’t look too expensive, so we went there, after a long search. I had some surprisingly good pasta and ridiculously dark red Bordeaux wine (when in Rome…). We headed out, and wandered through more cathedrals. I won’t go in to as much detail for these, as they weren’t as impressive as the old one. We also went through an area called “Petite France”. In Lonely Planet, it is described as a fairy tale land of rivers and timbered houses, and it turned out to be an apt description. You felt like you were transported back 500+ years when you wandered into the district. To get there, we went through this tunnel that went over a sort of bridge, and it was a surreal experience, although in a completely different way from the Red Light District of last weekend. This seemed to be the place where architectural and artistic remnants went to die. It was filled with small chunks from Gothic spires, partial and whole statues, and all kinds of other remnants of culture. If anyone is familiar with the movie (or N64 game) Goldeneye, think Statue Park in St. Petersburg. Except that they aren’t statues of Lenin and Stalin.

Anyway, we eventually made it to the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was gothic, as expected, but not in the overly evil looking way that most other gothic cathedrals I had seen had been. It was somehow more elegant. It still had spikes and spires jutting out all over the place, but it didn’t seem as random, it seemed to be more elegantly designed. It took about 400 years for them to build this cathedral, so they definitely had time to make it look elegant. The inside was very cool as well, with two organs, one modernish one and one that was almost as cool as the one in the old cathedral. The stained glass was magnificent. The art inside wasn’t as ornate as some of the other cathedrals, but then, the highlight of this one was the outside, not the inside. When we were done with this cathedral, we wandered off. We decided to head in the direction of the train station, and maybe catch an earlier train, rather than the last direct one to Luxembourg that we had planned on taking. We ended up taking a detour to see yet another church, and didn’t come close to catching the earlier one. We headed up to the platform to sit in a waiting area and wait for our train. When we walked in, we saw the same 3 MUDECers from before. I gave a resigned laugh and sat down to finish my International Herald Tribune. The trip home was uneventful, and we grabbed some food when we got back, decided against seeing the Dandy Warhols with John, and headed to our respective homes.

Sunday 16.10.05 Oberkorn

Sunday I was able to sleep in until I felt like waking up. This was probably the first time since coming here that I have been able to do that. It was a glorious feeling. I woke up in time for lunch with Daryl and Guy, as John was still sleeping. He had reason to. After the Dandy Warhols the previous night, John took the wrong train, and in doing so, missed the last train from Luxembourg to Oberkorn. He wandered around Luxembourg city from midnight until 6am when the trains started up again. Anyway, lunch was good, and after lunch, Guy brought out a pumpkin to carve. John and I decided we wanted pumpkins too, so we went to the farm next door and bought pumpkins. We had a grand old time carving them, mine had 3 faces, and John’s looks vaguely like it got run over by a Mack Truck. That was fun. After the ordeal of pumpkin carving and related activities, we had dinner. Guy threw ham, potatoes and 10 eggs in a skillet and made the closest thing I have had to a meat lover’s skillet since leaving home. I busted out the ridiculously dark red Bordeaux wine that I bought in Strasbourg, and it was good. The meal was very good. We then watched Alexander, which was an absolutely terrible movie. Then we went to bed, after a very relaxing weekend.


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