11 days have passed since we started this new leg of the trip touring Europe. You may think I have been touring Europe this whole time, but ask someone in the UK where Europe is and they most likely won’t say “right here”; they consider Europe to be that mass of land across the way. The two new professors we’re traveling with, Dr. Nelsen and Dr. Karwan, are excellent. We enjoy their company and they enjoy ours as well. On our first night we all went to the Hofbrauhaus for dinner, and since then we’ve been out for ice cream, and we’ve all played ultimate Frisbee together – all of this is not including all of the great meetings we’ve had with European politicians and experts in the European Union and European business.
We’re now in the fourth country in less than 2 weeks, a new record for me. We began in Munich where we toured the BMW plant there comparing it to the one we saw in Greenville and then we went to the Dachau concentration camp. This visit made what the Jews and all the others went through during this period much more real and awful. Viewing the crematorium, the bunk house, gas room, and marching grounds of the camp made me reflect upon the hardships so many Jews went through and it made me thankful for the sacrifices soldiers around the world make for the sake of democracy so things like that aren’t repeated. A tour guide pointed out how the older Germans don’t want to cover up this part of their history but remember and recall it so that people know how bad it was, and that the older generation is worried because they feel the younger people are simply trying to move on and forget about this dark chapter in history.
Next was Strasbourg, France where we got to see a plenary session of the European Parliament. There I realized how I would be visiting all the major institutions of the European Union and that it was sad I hadn’t even seen the US Congress in action so I’ve made it a resolution to visit Washington in the near future. Strasbourg was a beautiful little town I could see myself living in (if I lived in Europe) and it was a lot of fun to finally be in a French speaking country where I could practice my years of learning.
Frankfurt was an okay city, its pretty geared toured business which makes sense as we visited the European Central Bank there. Our hotel was mighty close to their Red Light District but our professors swore it was a coincidence…. After making sauerkraut at my job this summer I swore I would never eat it, but the Germans have changed my mind on that, its actually not that bad. German food may be the most distinct cultural food we’ve come across but I sure do love all of their sausages, pretzels, and other hearty dishes.
Luxembourg City was interesting since the majority of people there aren’t natives so it was a real hodge podge of Europe in one place. There we sat through a European Courts of Justice case where three of the justices were sleeping during the trial so needless to say we were all struggling to stay awake as well. Luckily, a large group of us got together and played ultimate Frisbee that afternoon and Dr. Nelsen proved that for a forty-eight year old he could still out run most of us.
We’ve been learning tons this leg of the trip and they give us ample down time so it has been a nice transition from the ultra fast pace of life in London – and prices are a lot cheaper.