Saturday, January 31, 2009
Day Trip to Carcassonne
Yesterday, we took a train to Carcassonne for the day. Carcassonne is a city that used to border Spain. There is a lower part of the city and then the upper part which is a fortified city. Inside there is a small town but unfortunately it is out of season so most stores and restaurants were closed. We walked around anyways, had lunch, and toured the inside of the castle part of the fortified town. The castle was really beautiful and explained a lot about how it was used in the past as well as its restoration. After we walked around the whole place, we realized we had 5 hours to kill until our train left at 8:30. We did some shopping in the lower town, and then found a little bar in a town square where we had vin chaud, or basically hot wine with orange and spices made specially at the bar. The older man we talked to gave us the recipe so we hope to try it out soon! Then we went to another place for tapas, but soon found out we had basically crashed a party for the championship handball game, France vs. Denmark, which I guess is pretty big over here. So we were a bit out of place (a group of 6 american girls in the middle of a large pack of french men) we had fun and killed time until our train. It was a really good time, its so nice not having classes on Fridays!
As for the day before, Thursday, there was a scheduled strike in France. If you don't know muchg about France, strikes are huge things that happen all the time in a planned-out way. Our one teacher warned us 2 weeks ahead of time that she would be participating. We went to check out the whole strike as it was going on, and basically it looks like a huge festival with music and everything. It seems that everyone just picks something that is offending them about any social policy, makes a sign, and marches along with everyone else. Its a little scary, especially when they set off some sort of noisemakers that sound like bombs going off, but it was interesting to see and class was cancelled! That night, I went to my friend Kate's homestay for dinner with her host mother Nicole and her two friends. It was nice eating a real meal as opposed to the pasta and grilled cheese I make in my own apartment. It was also nice to speak french to the 3 older women. I can tell I understand when they speak much better than when I first got there, even though I am still a bit hesitant in my own speaking. It was a fun few days, and next weekend I'm going skiing in the Alps! Hope all is well with everyone back home.