Brent Graham ’09 – Well I had a great time in Spain even with the snafu at the end of the trip. I can honestly say that I could live in Spain if it was necessary, or even if it wasn’t. Granada reminds me a lot of my hometown of Fort Wayne, IN. While it is the second largest city in the state, it retains kind of a small town feel for me. I think I will miss Irma and Neno, my host family, most of all. They helped me when I pronounced things wrong, taught me words and even a few local sayings. I gave Irma a small going away present, a Vera Bradley bag, that she said was beautiful and was perfect for her upcoming vacation to the beach. In return she presented me with a made for TV movie in Spanish and a CD of Opera in Spanish. They will be good additions to my DVD and CD libraries.
As you know I left for Paris by train on Thursday night. The train is something that all people should experience and preferably from first class. I took tourist class since I am a poor college student and it wasn’t bad except for I was on the top bunk and sat up into the ceiling three times. I know you’d think I learn after the first try but I can’t help that I have strange sleeping habits. The other problem was with who I was in a cabin with. It was me and two high school kids from Romania that were very fidgety and couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. I almost want to use my mothers favorite line and tell them to fold their hands and put them in their laps (mom is a kindergarten teacher).
After I arrived in Paris I wnt to the train station and checked my luggage in a locker. The sign said that it was 5€ for 10 hours and 8€ for 24 hours. I found out when I picked up my bags that that meant per bag. Paris is not a cheap city. They even charge you to use the public bathrooms in the train station. I however managed to see the city for 8€, not including the checked luggage fee. After I put my bags up I got on the metro and went to see the Eiffel Tower. It was just like Guernica much better in person. Right near the tower there is a military building that struck my eye because it had a cavalry building and looked a lot more like the town halls in Spain than a military building. The tower was also near a third building. It caught my eye because the roof is gold and beautifully sculpted and it is also surrounded by some beautiful gardens. The building was the Charles de Gaulle history museum.
Next I went to see the Arc de Triomphe. It was not something that I had to see but it was interesting. It was also Kind of a pain because you had to walk under the street to get to the center of the roundabout where the arc is and to get down and then back up the police had to search you. I’m still not sure what for. If I didn’t know any better I would have said it was built by the Romans. I learned it was based off of an arch built by the Romans but I didn’t realize the similarity until I was standing right under it.
My final stop before going back to the train station was church. I went to watch noon mass at Notre Dame (and no I don’t mean that school in South Bend, Indiana). It was amazing. Had I been half an hour earlier I could have heard the international service but instead I heard the French service. I didn’t understand it but it was still a good experience. At first I thought that the church was small but once I left to walk around it I saw how big it really is. Though I didn’t have a lot of time to see Paris I think that I saw a lot. For 8€ I saw some of the most important spots in Paris in 4 hours. After that I boarded a train to Germany to meet up with another Wabash student who is one of my fraternity brothers that is currently studying abroad, Ian scales.
(Germany trip follows)