Saturday, October 23, 2004 0 comments

Farewell Trip to Cologne

It's an absolutely beautiful fall day.  The sky is a bright blue; there's only a few little wispy clouds.  The trees are changing colors and everything's sparkling in the bright sunshine.  After returning from hazy, dusty, rocky Greece, everything looks so green and alive here. 

I'm on a train headed for Köln.  It's wonderful to get the chance to take this little trip on my own, the way I've been planning.  I was upset when it didn't work out yesterday, but Adam was with me then so it's for the best since I get to be alone today.  It's just hard to really get the experience of Europe when I'm with a crowd and I feel like I have to keep up conversation.

On the train from Verviers to Aachen I was thinking about the first time I took that train, the first time I saw Germany  I tried so hard to catch all the little differences.

Germany is a beautiful place.  It's fairly flat in this part here, as I'm moving away from the Ardennes. Every now and then I see a few of the white, spare-looking windmills on a  ridge or windy spot.  I enjoy the train between Verviers and Aachen because it goes through rolling green farmland, with the black and white cows scattered around, and occasionally sheep.  The landscape's not so different here; it's mostly the buildings.  Nearly everything has a red clay tile roof, and in the towns all the buildings are built together in their little rows with no space between.

I'm glad I'm getting to go on this trip today.  It sounds silly, but I feel like I need to say goodbye somehow to the cathedral.  It represents all of what I came to Europe to find.  I nearly cried that first day I saw it (August 19th, I still remember, on the way to the Rhine River).  I never got a poster of it, and that's what I want today.  I want to be able to see it every day.  I don't want to think about the idea of never seeing it again.

It looks like they've been getting all the rocks out of the fields, or maybe that's potatoes--no, more likely rocks.  There's a big pile next to most of the fields. I've never noticed that before, so it must be something they do this time of year as harvest is finishing up.

What a beautiful day.  I love days like this.  I feel like I look just a little more European today, too.  If you only saw me from the waist up, anyhow.  My too-big jeans and Sketchers don't help.  But, I'm wearing my gray leather fake leather bomber jacket I got in Rome, and my white scarf.  Nicole fixed it like the women in Verviers wear theirs (and most do wear one), looped through itself with the ends tucked into my jacket.  I really don't need a scarf on the train, but I don't want to take it off because I know I probably wouldn't be able to fix it back the same, and I want to blend in a bit in Cologne.

I want to get my mother a t-shirt somewhere; maybe I'll find one here.  She would like that, from my favorite place.

Now I am here.  I"m sitting in a pew in the Cologne Cathedral, enjoying the grandeur of the place.  The inside isn't the most breath-taking place I've seen, but it's still beautiful: the massive stone pillars and the arches, the white vaulted ceiling, the statues.  This time the apse was open and I walked around there, to get a closer view of the famous crucifix, made in about the eleventh, or maybe tenth, century, if I remember right, and the first one to show Christ with his eyes closed on the cross.  I also got closer to the golden box, now protected by glass, which holds the relic of the bones of the magi.  I love stained glass.  I stood for a while and looked at the stories told in it--the one to my right, lit up by the sun, is of the apostles with tongues of fire on their heads when they received the Holy Spirit.

I lit a candle as I came in. I lit one in Westminster, too.  I like knowing that i have left some glow here, a little bit of light, to do more than just silently walk around and leave no mark.

Well, now I'm in Köln Hoptbahnhof, waiting for my train to go home.  I have a few minutes, so I thought I'd stop and write for a minute.  I enjoyed my time today.  I took a lot of pictures. I got two posters: one a color photo of the cathedral and the city; the other a really interesting one with the shape of the cathedral written in musical notes, in an "Ode to Cologne".  I didn't find any t-shirts for mom.  I didn't see many at all, and what I did see I didn't like.  Cologne is a pretty city, but the t-shirts are ugly.  I'll get her one somewhere in Belgium.

Well, now I'm in Aachen.  It's nearly five; a train for Verviers doesn't leave until six.  Or 18:00--it's taken a  long to time to start getting used to twenty-four-hour time.  I have plenty of time, so I walked down here to this little park right across from the old gate tower.  I can smell the falling leaves.

Well, some guy just came up and looked over my shoulder and said something in German.  I just smiled and closed the book a little and he said, "Okay," and something else in German and went on.  I hope he's not offended.  I'm not rebuffing him; I just don't understand German.  And it's not really a good idea to let him know that when I'm alone anyhow.   

Friday, October 22, 2004 0 comments

Antwerp, or McDonald'sville

Well, I woke up to an absolutely beautiful fall day--sunny and crisp.  I made plans to take the last trip to Cologne, which I'd been planning for some time.  I had planned to go alone, but Adam said he'd go along with me.  Aaron was going to Aachen, so we planned to meet him on the train.

However, we missed the train by a couple of minutes.  I was so mad at myself.  I don't think I've ever missed one leaving Verviers before.  I was upset because I really wanted to make it to Cologne, and I hated leaving it to the last day.  What if it was cold and rainy tomorrow, and not good for pictures?  What if something came up?  Well, if it had been just me, I would have goofed around in Verviers for a couple of hours and caught the 14:13 train and just gotten back late, but Adam was with me and didn't want to do that.  He wanted to go to Antwerp, so we caught the 12:32 train for Liege.  I had rather have gone to Maastricht, but Antwerp was fine.  We were stupid and didn't realize that Anvers in French was Antwerp, so we took the long way around and went to Brussels and then on to Antwerp.  One there, we just walked around the main streets, went to a good used bookstore (of course--apparently we two can smell them out) we had heard of, and ate at one of the seven McDonald's on that street.  It was amazing, really--we would pass a McDonald's, and almost immediately see a banner attached to the lamp post saying "McDonald's--four minutes ahead!".  At some points, we could look in both directions and see a McDonald's.  And yet, they all seemed to have customers in them, even though they were only a five minute walk between them. And these aren't mini-McDonald's; they are regular, full-size ones.

The Antwerp train station was one of the most elaborately decorated ones that I've been through, and I've been through a lot of them by this point.   I don't think I'll ever get tired of the opulent old grandeur of so many public spaces in Europe. 

We took the train back directly to Liege, but it turned out the be a local train that stopped at every little town and wide spot in the road along the way.  We discovered a couple of Liege stops we'd never even heard of.   It took forever, but we finally made it.

When we got back, Dr. Taylor asked us what all we saw, and apparently we just missed the giant sculpture of a hand that is famous in Antwerp--it was just a little further along the road we were on.  And we could have went down to the port and looked around, but oh well.  This is why you should research, but we had a nice day the same. In the end, I'm glad we went, because I wouldn't have spent much time on Antwerp otherwise. 
Wednesday, October 20, 2004 0 comments

Tuesday and Wednesday


I didn't do much on Tuesday, really.  I worked on my journal for Western Heritage a lot of the day. It was nice to have a day when I didn't have to go anywhere or do anything in specific.  It was great to sleep until I felt like waking up.


Another day around Verviers.  Oh, I remember now what it was I did yesterday that I was going to write about.  I knew I didn't sit around the house all day.  So, Tuesday again...

Tuesday Again: 

I went antique shopping in the afternoon with Mrs. Virginia and Mrs. Marie.  We first went up to a place I'd never been before, up the hill by the court house where I don't go much.  We stepped into the court house as we passed it to see a beautiful stairway with a large stained glass window behind it, showing Justice holding her scales.

The antique place was in an old, leaky barn of a building, and a lot of the things in it were pretty dirty, but there was some good stuff.  My first find was the best of the day--a cup and matching saucer of Bavarian porcelain, marked U.S. zone on the bottom.  I liked it because that dated it to a very specific period in history.  It really is pretty--it has a border of brilliant blue with gold accents.  I found another smaller Bavarian cup and saucer that is very pretty with a little scene of a couple sitting on bench in a garden on it, which I got for mom.  I also found a little oval dish, pointed on the ends, which is beige color with pink and yellow flowers that I hope mom will like; it reminds me of a set she already has.  My last find there--which Mrs. Virginia pointed out and explained the use of--was a little glass alt and pepper holder.  It has a handle in the middle with a little round cup on either side for the salt and pepper.  You use it by pinching salt and pepper out of it or with a tiny little flat spoon (I haven't gotten any of those yet, though).  It was pretty, and very European, so I got that, too.  I got all of it for 8€, thanks to Mrs. Virginia's bargaining with the man.

A little later we went back out, after washing up and showing off our finds, to the antique place down almost to the Plaza Vert where I've been a few times before.  This time we got the lady to take us upstairs.  Mrs. Marie had found some linen napkins there before and she wanted to look for a tablecloth to go with them.   I didn't find much up there, except for some old post cards.  I got a few from some countries I don't have in my collection yet: Iceland, Zimbabwe, and I'll have to look to remember the others.

Downstairs, I found another salt and pepper holder, even prettier than the first, which I'll give to mom.  I really think she'll like it.  I wanted to get her a plate of some kind as well,, but I didn't see any that really struck my fancy.  Maybe later.  I wished mom was there for the antique shopping.  She really would have had fun.  It was fun to be doing it, and I enjoyed being out with the older women without any of the other college students--it was like being out with my mom.  Well, Adam went with us for a while ot the second shop, but he didn't stay long.

Wednesday Again:

Now, on with Wednesday.  I really did sit around the house all day.  I got nearly finished with my Western Heritage journal.  We watched a lot of movies.  We watched Love Potion Number 9, which was really good.  Some people watched Jaws and some other things, but I didn't stick around for that.  The last thing, some of us girls stayed up until two in the morning watching Anne of Green Gables.  I really love that movie--now I really want to reread all the books. :)  It just aggravated me because I can't remember what the last one is called. 

*Note, more than seven years later as I am typing up old journals: I have no memory whatsoever of Love Potion #9.  Weird how some things stick in your head and others don't; I remember other movies I watched that same month in detail, but not a thing of that one.  I guess I'll just have to watch it again, and maybe it would come back to me. 
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 0 comments

Europe from Above

We spent Monday getting back to Verviers.  We met at the McDonald's on Syntagma as usual, at 8:30.  We made it through the airport without incident, except that was hoping to buy a banana and never found any.

The flight back was fun because we flew right up the coast of Albania and Croatia.  I've never been on a flight that long that flew so low.  I was in the middle between Katy and Stacy.  I had my headphones on a good part of the flight, but after a while we got out our eurail maps and followed our progress right up the coast, trying to figure out which country's coast we were over at the moment.  We could see both water and land for much of the flight.  It tried to take a couple of pictures, but I don't know how well they will come out.

As interesting as that was, I was a lot more excited when we left the ocean behind and flew over Switzerland. We flew right over all the snow-covered mountains--so beautiful! Of course, I took a couple more pictures.  I could see lakes scattered here and there among the peaks.  I love mountains, but I'd never seen them from the top.

We landed in Brussels around there, and Katy and Nicole and I went in search of food.  The particular Brussels train station we ended up at is in the business district of town, so there wasn't anything outside of the station.  We ate at a Quicky Burger inside the station.  It wasn't something to repeat; the food was greasy and just tasted cheap.  But anyhow, it solved the problem of being hungry.

We caught a train back to Verviers and ended up running into a large part of the group on the way.  We spent the rest of the night doing laundry, checking our email, and catching our breath.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 0 comments

Cape Sunion

Saturday was our free day.  Katy and I had been planning all week what we should do; a lot of people were talking about the beach, be we didn't want to hang out there all day.  WE also talked about Sparta, but it was pretty far and would have been time-consuming and difficult to get to.  So, we looked through the booklets our tour guide had given us on our first day in Greece, and picked out the most beautiful picture and then tried to find out how to get there. 

We asked the tour guide, but he didn't have many ideas.  However, we found a tourist-info place Saturday morning and they told us about a bus going there for only 4,30€.  After some confusion (but we expect that by now), we found the right one.  It was nearly a two-hour ride, which was a little longer than we expected, but we had a good time to talk about what we're going to do with our room next semester and what we each already have.  *Reminder to self--ask Dad about bunk beds* 

We finally arrived at Cape Sunion, down on the southernmost tip of the peninsula that Athens is at the neck of.  On a cliff on a little peninsula jutting out into the sea is the ruins of an ancient temple to Poseidon.  It was as beautiful as we had hoped it would be.  Here's what I wrote while there in my notebook:

Right now I'm sitting on a rock look out into the Aegean Sea.  Behind me is the Temple of Poseidon, on Cape Sunion. Sunion is a little peninsula jutting out into the sea, so we're almost completely surrounded by water.  It's so peaceful here; all I can hear is the waves breaking against the cliffs.  

It's the first nice day for several days; it's been uncharacteristically cool and rainy this week, but today it's fairly sunny and balmy.  It was hot and humid in the city, but out here by the sea a nice breeze is blowing and it's close to perfect.  

There are rocky islands dotting the sea in every direction, just more of the mountains that are here on the mainland.  I hear crickets in the bushes.  This is a beautiful spot for a temple; I see why the ancients chose it.  It would make nearly anyone reflective and thoughtful out here watching the waves.  

The temple itself is in pretty good shape for as old as it is.  The tall columns standing guard on their little strip of land look regal, commanding.  It must have been a great sense of power for those who built it.  It's the first thing anyone approaching here by boat would see, towering over them on the cliff.  It can been seen without obstruction from any direction. 

We walked around for while and enjoyed the quiet.  The peace was so restful after two months of living in a small apartment with thirty-one people, and the past week in a charter bus with the same group.  I took a lot of pictures  before we caught the three-thirty bus back to Athens.

We were walking down the street toward the hotel when we ran into Troy, Chuck, and Dallas.  We joined them and walked around the touristy shops at the closest end of the Plaka for while, and then met Anna, Nicole, and Amy Manchester at Hard Rock.  We had a forty-five minute wait for a table that big, but it was fun as our Hard Rock evenings usually are.

I got the pig sandwich (my favorite) yet again, thinking maybe I just wasn't tasting very well on Monday, but no, the barbecue in Greece just isn't to my taste.  Our waiter was weird; we argued with him much of the meal about splitting our checks.

Anyhow, we went back to Syntagma and watched the changing of the guard again since a few people in our group hadn't stopped to watch it yet.   
Friday, October 15, 2004 0 comments

Mycenae, Epidauros, and Corinth

On Thursday, we took the charter bus with Alexandros, our driver.  Anis was back as our tour guide.  We drove down into the Peloponnese first.  The are we went to was very rocky, with mountains and olive groves.  Our first stop was a beehive tomb.  It was very near--and part of--the ruins of Mycenae.  The tomb is empty now, but it was probably the burial place of some of the royals or very high-ranking officials of the city.  It was build into a hillside, with high retaining walls leading to the huge door.  There probably was a wooden door originally.  The lentil over the door weighs thousands of pounds; it's amazing that they were able to get it up there, without modern tools, more than three thousands years ago.  

The beehive tomb (properly called a Tholos) at Mycenae is called the Treasury of Atreus.  It's the best preserved of the Mycenaean tombs.  It was named after Atreus, the ancestor of Agamemnon, by archaeologists, although no one really knows who was buried there.  The tomb was probably constructed in about 1250 BC. Over the doorway, there is a triangular relief hole, which was typical of Mycenaean architectural style (we saw them repeated in most of the gates and buildings in the are that survives).  Inside is a large room with one small side room set back into the hill; it is from inside that the beehive name makes sense as the walls taper to a conical ceiling.  The walls of the tomb were built by laying row after row of stone blocks, each circle a little smaller; then, the overlapping stone on the inside was cut off to make a smooth dome wall. 

Next, we went just a little ways down the road to the ruins of the ancient city of Mycenae.   I was excited to see the famous lioness gate; we'd studied it in Western Heritage.  We were all disappointed to see that there was scaffolding around it.  The lionesses are carved facing each other as a triangular slab that fit into the traditional triangular hold in the main gate. 

Just inside the gate was a grave circle: nineteen bodies, I believe, were found in six graves, including two babies.  The grave was excavated in the 1800s.  The treasure found in the graves is now held in the National Museum in Athens.  It is really amazing and shows the great wealth and power Mycenae had at its zenith.  There were solid gold--so thin they looked like aluminum foil--face masks, and two outfits of pure gold for the two babies, as well as many other things buried with the dead. 

Mycenae is built on a hill.  The palace would have been on the top, surrounded by other homes and public buildings.  No buildings stand now, but part of the city wall (with the lioness gate) stands, and the foundations of many buildings are visible.  It was fascinating to walk around a place built 3500 years ago.  The Mycenaeans were the ancients to the ancient Greeks; the Iliad is probably about the beginning of the end for the Mycenaeans. 

One of our sights to see for our Western Heritage journal was the royal staircase, which received a lot of derision in the journal, since it is now little more than a particularly rocky hillside.  Robert and Joe used the rocky landscape to film a short reenactment of the scene from The Lord of the Rings, where Sam carried Frodo up the side of Mount Mordor.  Robert played Sam, and Joe played Frodo. 

After we left Mycenae, we went to Epidauros to see the best-preserved ancient Greek theater.  Several of us first were more interested in seeing the W.C.

Thursday, October 14, 2004 0 comments

October 13th: Greek Islands

On Wednesday we took a cruise to some of the Greek islands.  It was a cloudy day, but at least not raining.

Most of our group stayed in the lounge area of the boat, and many fell asleep.  As we set off, it was windy and rather cool--especially was we had expected hot weather in Greece, so I was wearing capris and flip-flops. At least I had my sweatshirt.  Katy and I did not want to waste our time while on the boat, so we went up to the deck and found a table on the side that was sheltered from the wind, so it wasn't too bad.  She was re-reading her favorite book, A House like a Lotus, part of which is set in Greece, while I worked on finishing up Italy in my journal.

Our first port of call was Poros.  We had about an hour on the island. We walked around the first couple of roads of souvenir stands and the like, and then we went up to the bell tower, on the very top of the hill. There was a good view of the harbor from there.  It was pretty even though it was cloudy; it would really be a nice view if were sunny and clear.

Our next port was Hydra, a tiny island where no one drives a car; they just use donkeys.  Katy and Dara took a donkey ride first off, which was pretty funny to watch. Some of the guys went down and jumped in the water from some low cliffs Troy knew about (he'd been to Hydra before, some time).  Meghan and Mandy jumped off some slightly lower rocks.  The water was pretty rough, though.  Chuck got really scraped up, and was stung by sea urchins all over the bottom of his feet.

I spent the time poking around the shops.  I finally bought a couple of the beautiful painting I've been seeing everywhere.  I hope I can get them back in one piece.

Our last port of call was Aegina, a little bit larger island.  I was beginning to regret wearing the flip-flops; my feet were really tired and cold.  Katy, Leah, and I walked around and poked through the shops.  A lot of the group rented little mopeds and cruised around town.  They were really funny.  The guys thought they were so cool.  I saw several restaurants where they had octopus hanging up ready to cook, and some grilling it.  I just can't really imagine eating octopus.  I took a picture of it hanging up to show everyone.

We finally got back on the boat and headed for Athens.  We sat inside this time since it was getting cooler and really looking rainy.  Katy was pretty upset because Leah went to sit with Will instead of us.  It's kinda hard because Leah has to choose between them a lot, being so close to both.  And Katy's hurt whenever she chooses Will.   But anyhow, I got a few postcards written and little more in the journal.  As usual, there were quite a few Asians on board.  And none of us got really sea-sick, although I know I felt a little bad there for awhile between Hydra and Aegina.

I was after eight and getting dark when we finally got back to port.  Our bus was waiting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004 0 comments

October 12th in Athens

It is pretty warm here today.  I wore my cut-off capris.  I started out wearing flip-flops, but thought better of it and changed before we went up to the acropolis.

Our tour guide, Chrisoola (Chris for short), met use with the bus at Syntagma Square, and we took the tour of Athens.  The parliament building is right there on Syntagma.  We drove by the Prime Minister's house and the state gardens, and later the ruins of the Temple of Zeus on our way to the Acropolis. WE went up on the Acropolis and entered through the Propylaia.  The Temple of Athena Nike had been dismantled for restoration, so it wasn't even there.  We walked around the Parthenon and Erechtheum (see school journal for Western Humanities for details about them).

It was a perfect day to be there, because a ceremony was being held because it was the sixtieth anniversary of Greece's liberation in World War II.  I stood on a rock and watched a parade of sorts--a band in uniform played as the participants came by, and next to them was an honor guard n traditional Greek dress uniform.  Several men and women in suits came by first; I assume they were government officials.  A boy scout and girl scout troop went in the middle, and then a group of girls dressed in brightly colored old-fashioned costumes carried a huge flag.  The band and honor guard followed them down to a round overlook area at the edge of the cliff of the Acropolis.  There was a flagpole there, and they raised the flag and the speeches began.  I went on the the museum then since it was all in Greek anyhow.

The museum had many of the things that had been found on the acropolis as they've done restoration.  A lot of the friezes from the Parthenon are inside there (that haven't been taken off to the British Museum), and there are quite a few statues that were votive offerings. 

 From the acropolis, we went down just a little and then back up onto Mars Hill, the Aereopagus.  It's more like a second summit of the acropolis hill than a separate hil.  It is basically just a huge, craggy rock, with a good view of the city.  It looks out right over the old agora, with the stoa and the Hephaiston on either side. I expected more of a man-made, comfortable kind of place, but I can see how if people were sitting ont eh rocks at the top it would be a great place to sit and talk, in full view of both the city and the acropolis, yet out of the noise and bustle.  If someone stands on the flatter part near the edge, they have a good view of everyone, rather an amphitheater feel.  It's a good speaking place.   It was especially interesting to see because Paul spoke there.  Usually Dr. Taylor reads Paul['s sermon on Mars Hill from Acts while up there, but he forgot his Bible at the hotel. I took several pictures; I want to be able to show Papa and everyone what Mars Hill is like.

After that we walked own from the acropolis and ate lunch at an outdoor place in the Plaka area.  The first course was moussaka, which is mostly potatoes and ground beef put together something like lasagna.  Naturally, I didn't eat much of that, but someone else was glad to finish it for me.  I ate quite a bit of the bread, and there was a salad, and I ate some of my chicken, but it was very dry without any ketchup.  I know I'm a horrible. European. :)

After lunch, we went to the National Archaeological Museum. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 0 comments

Sleeping on the Move: Brussels to Athens

I slept pretty well considering I was curled up on airport chairs with armrests and without cushions.  It was probably about 1:30 when I decided to try to get some sleep.  I put my backpack on one seat.  Then I pulled out my bag of t-shirts and put it over the armrest between me and my backpack to cushion that, curled my legs around the other armrest, used my sweatshirt as a pillow, and leaned against  my backpack.  I had my blanket, of course.  I slept for about three hours, waking up now and then to turn over.

A little after four I got up and got my stuff ready.  We checked our baggage a little after five, and caught a 6:30 plane to Athens.  I took my blanket and used it as a neck pillow and slept most of the flight.  However, I'm beginning to lose my enjoyment of flying: my ears popped so bad I couldn't hear much of anything the rest of the day.

The view from the balcony of our hotel room
One of the tour guides met us at the airport, and we took a charter bus, which we had for the week, to our hotel.  We stayed at the Pan Hotel, which is two-star and not luxurious, but not bad at all.  And it's in a great location--right off Syntagma Square.

I am rooming with Mandy and Anna for the week.  We have one bedroom with two beds, the TV, and a balcony, and another room with a single bed.  I volunteered for the private room since I'm coughing so much.  I'm glad to have a little bit of privacy, though.  It's been a long time since I've been alone in a room for more than five minutes.

Katy came up for a while and we talked about what we are going to do on our free day on Saturday, and then I decided to lay down for a short nap.  Well, that turned into three hours.  I got up and got a shower and a bunch of us headed out to find the Hard Rock, which was really close to our hotel.  They had really fun shirts--they are red-orange with Hard Rock Cafe written in black in the shape of a guitar.  I didn't get it, but if I don't spend too much money on other things this week I may go back for it.

I got a pig sandwich and onion rings, but I couldn't eat too much.  The barbecue sauce tastes different here, anyhow.  Hard Rock is always a good time, but I kinda wish we had waited until later in the week.  I couldn't even hear the music my ears were popped so bad.

Oh, and I had McDonald's for lunch.  They have onion rings here,weird.  Not bad, a lot like Burger Kings'.  Next door, some of the other ate at a little pita place called Pita Pan. :) 

Wednesday, September 8, 2004 0 comments

September 7: Konigsee

Monday morning we met early and took the train--a little over an hour--into the mountains.  We were like little kids watching out he windows looking for the first big ones.  Several of us took pictures out the window as the mountains got bigger and bigger.  We got off at the Konigsee, the King's Sea.   It's a large lake that fills a valley between huge rocky mountains; the name comes from the days of the Bavarian monarchy when the royal family had a vacation home on the lake. 

It was still early; the mist was still on the water as we walked towards the dock.  A postcard-perfect islands was silhouetted int he fog.  We took a boat down the lake 9it's almost like a short, wide river the way it winds around the foot of the mountains) as the sun burned off the mist.  Halfway out, one of the tour guides got out a trumpet and stepped into the doorway of the boat.   He played several calls and then waited while we listened to the perfect echoes bouncing back from the steep mountainsides.  

We docked by St. Bartholomew's chapel, constructed with money given by the royal family.  The white walls and orange-red turrets are quite a contrast against the green mountainside and blue sky  behind it.   Only a few steps away were a restaurant famous for serving mountain trout, smoked whole, a souvenir stand, and toilets.   There were paths that led around the edge of the lake, but we did not have time to explore too far.  I would love to hike the whole thing someday.  It was quite cool--sweatshirt weather--up there in the mountains, but several of the girls went wading anyhow.   I wasn't so brave. 

Saturday, August 14, 2004 0 comments


Classes are going pretty well now.  I dropped Modern Lit.  I enjoyed the things we ere reading, but it was time consuming, and it's rather annoying going from upper-level English major classes to a lit class with various non-majors complaining about how long things are.  Besides, I still have twelve hours without it, and there's no need to bother with a class I don't need anyhow.  It's so nice to have a break.

I'm really enjoying the Western Heritage class.  It's a lot of cultural history, mostly, and it's really interesting.  We're learning about art, architecture, philosophy, and history, all intertwined.

I finished the book I brought, Barbara Kingsolver's Homeland.  It's a collection of short stories.  I really enjoy her work, and I think it will help me when I write my short story for creative writing, as her style is close to what I'd like to write myself.  I have a few starts for it, but I guess the hard part is writing something that will be interesting and coherent to everyone who has to read it.  The class reading my writing in Advance Comp wasn't a big deal because it was just more non-fiction--essays and term papers and such, like I've been writing for years now.  But this--no one but my mother, that I know of, has ever read anything fiction I wrote, well, besides a few poems and some stories when I was very little. 

The more I think about writing, the more things I remember writing as a child.  The first I remember was about a girl, her older brother, and her mother, but I remember nothing about the plot; Mom says she still has it somewhere.  Then there were the stories of Janella the Bear, and some I wrote in Gifted.  There was one that was something about someone who fell in a pit.  Of course I illustrated them all.  In fifth grade, I had a whole folder of story ideas--I loved to create characters.  I remember one about a mother of six who crashed her care over a cliff and landed on a ledge which opened into a cave, and how she survived, and how her children refused to accept her disappearance and finally found her.  I started my first novel that year, too, and called it "Together but Alone," which of course sounds corny now but seemed clever at the time.  It was a bout a family who won a trip on a cruise ship.  The shop crashed while at sea, and the three daughters were separated from the parents and were stranded along with a few other children on an island, and how they survived.  I had quite a bit written and typed it on the computer at school in what was supposed to be my "gifted" time, although it was more just a way to keep me busy because they didn't know what to do with me. 
Thursday, August 12, 2004 0 comments


We circled Brussels for the better part of an hour before we finally landed.  Then, we rushed to the train station to wait another hour for our train; we arrived in Verviers at about two in the afternoon. Verviers was absolutely beautiful even in a misty rain.  We got a lot of strange looks as twenty-nine people drug their suitcases through streets, busy with people shopping. 

Last night I went with Leah and Katy to L'Europe, a great little coffee shop/restaurant just down the street.  They got a type of milk coffee (I can say it, but I don't remember how to spell it); I tried a sip of Katy's but in only conformed that I am not a coffee person.  It looks good, and I wish I could drink it, but it's just too bitter to me.  Leah suggested we make it a weekly thing--that every Tuesday that we're in Verviers we will go down to the coffee shop for drinks and talk.  And the last time we go, we'll dress up in whatever new clothes we've bought while we're here.  

I got a little time this afternoon to explore by myself while; I went and got an ice cream after I accidentally went the wrong direction.  It was wonderful, and it was fun because I was able to order in French, and never spoke any English.  I read the sign and figured out what must mean one scoop.  My pronunciation was probably bad, but he understood me.  I'll definitely be going back--the ice cream was unbelievably good.  It was softer, creamier, and richer than what I'm used to in the States.  Then I made my way around the long way to the GB Super and the post office; in the grocery store, I was humming along with the music playing over the loudspeakers for a few seconds before it occurred to me that it was a bit strange that they were playing Marks Wills "Don't Laugh at Me."  American country music, in a little grocery store all the way across Belgium--it seems like in the U.S. we have every kind of entertainment industry, and we get almost nothing from non-English speaking places.  Well, shirts with French words or jewelry with Chinese symbols are popular, but nothing that really means anything. 

I bought some ketchup (they have Heinz here), some more notebooks, a birthday card for Kathleen, and a card that it a birthday card but has a little dog like Jack on it that I'll send to Papa and Nanny anyways. 

We all went to a park with a huge white gazebo for a devo tonight.  It was nice to sing again--it's been a long time, as there wasn't much this summer. 

Today I read Moliere's Tartuffe for the modern literature class.  It was funny, and not that long.  It was maybe forty pages, but easy to read, so I don't know why everyone's complaining so much.  I love the book we have for the class; there are so many great things in it.  It's a Norton Anthology's Words Lit Volume II; I wish I had more time to read it all.   I really think that I will buy every anthology I can before I graduate college.  

I want to find a copy of Pride and Prejudice in French, and maybe one of Charlotte Bronte's books, probably The Professor, since it's set in Belgium.   Tomorrow maybe I'll poke around in some of the bookstores in town, and Mandy wants to try the ice cream and I said I'd go with her. 

Well, I guess I will try to get some sleep.  My pillow is very hard and flat, but got one of the extra blankets to prop it up.  WE have class at 8:30 tomorrow morning, so I guess I'll head to the room. 
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 0 comments

August 10: Flying

12:51 a.m. US central time,  7:51 a.m Belgium time

We're about an hour out of Brussels.  As I thought, our night wasn't long.   We left Chicago O'Hare at a little after six Monday night.   We flew over Battle Creek and Lansing (or was it Detroit--I'll have to check the map) and then over Canada.  It got dark while we flew over Canada, probably by 7:30 central time. We crossed New York state and then the Atlantic.  Somewhere below the clouds we are now flying over Dover and London.  We noticed the sun was rising at 11:40 Tennessee time (I'm not sure exactly what time zone we were in at the time).  So, a four-hour night.  Most of the windows are open now and they're serving breakfast.  It's been a very good flight--the staff has been nice and have been good to serve drinks.  The inflight movies were Hidalgo and Under the Tuscan Sun.  I have been wanting to see the second, but I ended up watching most of the first and only seeing the second without bothering to plug my headphones in.  It would probably be a good movie--I enjoyed what I saw of it, but I just wasn't in the mood to get involved in another story right then.   Meghan taught me to play back alley bridge, and we played half a game of that as the sun came up.  Now shes taking a nap; I could probably sleep if I really wanted to, but usually I'm better off in situations like this if I don't sleep.  I just finished of the last of my chocolate, so I should be good for a while.  I'm listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd (Thyrty) at the moment.