Day Trip to StrasbourgEuropean Union, Summer 2012
Day Trip to Strasbourg
I know I missed a few days but trust me, you didn’t miss anything. All I’ve been doing since classes started is wake up, read, shower, off to class, lunch, more class, back home, read, find something for dinner, sleep, repeat. But today is Saturday and we (the EU 6) are going to Strasbourg for the day. Strasbourg is a French border city that touches Germany (this will be a problem later). We bought tickets at Gleishnost. Marcel, our Political Science professor took us to this tourist travel agency the other day during lunch. The people were nice and all spoke English. Each employee sat in front of a desk wearing a Bluetooth like headset which they used to call the train stations to set up deals for people who otherwise could not make their way. I’m a do it yourself kinda guy so I’m a bit biased in my statements but we all are.
So we planned to meet at the Tram at 8:52, we have to take the Tram to the train station to take our 9:30 train to Offenburg (our connecting city). Everything goes smooth; we all make it to the Tram on time, we get to the train station by 9:11 a usual sign of foreshadowed misfortune.
There it is, our first problem. Our train to Offenburg left at 9:03 not 9:30, so much for a photographic memory. So we wait until the next train which leaves at 10:04.
I see an old woman walking by. The best way to describe her is decrepit but determined. Her face is full of wrinkles, each articulately printed onto her skin. The creases flow along the general structure of her face. From the corners of her eyes around her high cheekbones past the lips that have uttered thousands of goodbyes and farewells down her nearly hairless chin. Her right hand has no fingers, just a thumb and clenched in her grip is a cigarette. Determined.
When Alex and Sam get back from the ticket office they say that the only train from Offenburg to Strasbourg is at 12:30 so we have to take the 11:04 train. After a bit of self deliberating I decide to voice my opinion that we should just take the 10:04 train and arrive early in Offenburg to wander around until our 12:30 train to Strasbourg. The group takes a few seconds to think it over then we decide to get up and go. Alex has taken off his shoes to let them air dry, it has rained the past few days and his royal blue and charcoal vans are still damp. Needless to day it takes him a short while to get himself gathered and get on the train. In fear of leaving a man behind, Sam and I stand at the door of the train waiting for Alex and the door closes. The attendant tries to open the door but cannot. The train is on schedule and will not be late for 3 American college students trying to get away to France for the day. The train leaves Alex, Sam and me along with the tickets (in Alex’s bag). Batu, Caroline and Sarah are on the train with no tickets and no way to know that the other half is still standing on the loading dock. Wait, cell phone. Sam calls them and they get off at the next stop, “we’ll just meet up there and ride to Offenburg together.” The hour wait for the 11:03 train was long. Luckily it was accompanied by the stylings of an amateur harmonica player. Our reuniting train arrives. People get off; young eyes, old eyes, brown eyes, blue eyes, tired eyes, anxious eyes, eyes covered in makeup, eyes hidden behind sunglasses, pretty eyes, plain eyes, curious eyes, sad eyes, lonely eyes all glanced at me as the reach their destination and our departure point.
We get on the train and are instantly surrounded by native Germans. The incessant chatter of children, children whom I assume are asking questions because their parents bark short responses short that don’t seem very affectionate. I assume they are the typical questions, where are we going? how long before we get there? I’m hungry, when do we eat? Is the train moving? Why can’t I sit next to the window? Can we play a game?
Shortly after the train leaves and we pass hills and houses. Suddenly the train stops, I hope this is not bad news.
The train resumes and makes it to the stop, our counterparts get on and all is right with the world. Everyone is talking and it is brought to my attention that I am the only one who doesn’t have his passport. I thought Strasbourg was in Germany but apparently it is on the French side bordering Germany. Hopefully this will not be a problem. We will see.
No more problems arise. We get to Strasbourg and walk around, take pictures…
then walked around…
then visited the cathedral…
stop for a drink…
Our waiter was the epitome of French, it was almost as if we were in a stereotypical American sitcom; he puts his cigarette down and walks toward us, lips poked out, slightly puckered, and from the back of his throat he utters “Que puis-je vous aider” (What can I get you?) Batu is fluent so he translates for us. We order our drinks and enjoy.
Afterwards, more pictures…
Then we head back to the train station so we can get back to Germany in time for the German Portugal game. The Euro Cup starts today, well at least Germany’s first game, and there will be public viewing all over the city.
When we get back, Batu and I go to the Mensa where there will be public viewing for the students; Alex and Caroline don’t have their Uni cards ( the school ID cards) so the rest of the group will just chill in Sam’s flat.
When Batu and I arrive in the Mensa, I am overwhelmed by the patriotism, patriotism which our German Political Science teacher told us didn’t exist. This just goes to show that every generation must speak for itself. The national anthem, which the first two lines are illegal to recite in Germany, were recited by many of the students. The “Hitler” pose in which one arm is extended forward with the hand flat facing downward, another illegal act in Germany, was also performed by some of the students. Things that may not be socially acceptable for the Generation X is perfectly fine for those of Generation Y and Z. Smoking marijuana, which I will get to later, is also part of this phenomenon. Overall I would have to say that the energy and excitement of the entire viewing audience was the most I’ve seen thus far in Germany. It rivaled a NCAA Football playoff or Basketball tournament game. Germany won, 1-0. The city was lively and full of excitement for the next few hours. The last thing I remember hearing before I went to bed was, Deutsch-laaaand, Deutsch-laaaand, Deutsch-laaaand, Deutsch-laaaand.
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