Le Mont St. Michael

29 06 2012

28 juin 2012

Today, I visited Le Mont Saint Michael Cathedral. It is built on a massive rock surrounded by a village and a body of water. It dates back to 708 and continued being built and renovated until 1874. This beautiful monument has managed to avoid being destructed by war, natural disasters, and age.

My business class and I had a tour of Mont Saint Michael, but getting to it was not fun. This cathedral is built on a massive rock and there are two ways to get there, bus or boat. It is unique because when the tide is high you can only arrive by boat, and when it is low the best way is by bus. Today the tide was low, but the weather was HOT! Once we got there, our challenge was climbing the stairs to the top and none of us were dressed appropriately for hot and humid weather. It was almost as hot and sticky as Monaco.

Once I cooled down I was able to enjoy the architecture of this historic building and the village surrounding it. An interesting fact is that Disney princess castles and the castle at Disney World are based after Le Mont Saint Michael!

Tonight is the last night in our cozy, cottage-like hostel and tomorrow we finally head to Paris!!

Au revoir Normandy!
Kyle Ashley





WWII

29 06 2012

27 juin 2012

Today was a very busy, educational, and an emotional day visiting three different sites dedicated to World War II (WWII). These three sites are a memorial to the people who died during the war and in past historic tragedies.

First stop was the German Battery of Longues Sur Mer. This battle ground has three large cannons that are still standing. They face the Normandy Sea where the battles of D-Day took place along the Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword, and Utah Beaches. Standing behind the enormous cannons and seeing where the soldiers would bunk at night was an eye opening experience. These soldiers are brave soles who fought in deep honor for their country. (photos below).

Next stop was where many of these heroic soldiers where put to rest. The place dedicated to the American Soldiers is The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. There are around 9,500 soldiers buried there amongst beautiful gardens, statues, and a chapel. Listing to the many stories of the soldiers who lived through the war, talking about their fellow friends who passed away is extremely emotional. These soldiers didn’t just fight for their country, but for the ones who died fighting in it. (photos below).

Every Latin Cross or Star of David that is dedicated to a soldier is perfectly aline in every direction I turn. Down the hill is Omaha Beach where the American Troops fought on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The waves are calm and the beach is endless. This made it easy for the infantry to come access the land from the sea. Visiting this memorial cemetery makes me even more appreciative of being an American citizen. (photos below).

The last stop for the day was Le Mémorial de Caen. This museum is filled with artifacts from historic events around WWII and Adolf Hitler. I recall reading about these horrible events in world history class. However, there is something about visiting the museum that makes everything come together; to realize why it is so important to learn about these horrific events in history and to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. (photos below).

In the evening I went for a run in the village outside Caen, where I am staying in. It is a beautiful little area with small French cottages in the middle of nowhere. Our hostel doesn’t have wifi so everyone has resorted to making up games, painting nails, and listening to our professor play guitar. It’s amazing how technology has changed what people do in their free time.

Tomorrow I head to Mont Saint Michael.
Bonne Nuit,
Kyle Ashley.

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Brussels, Belgium

29 06 2012

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25 juin 2012

After 20 hours of traveling I arrived in Brussels. Yes, that was 20 hours of being on a train and bus!

My friends and I met up with the rest of our class and we attended a couple speakers at the European Council. We had a couple classes already about the European Union, but it was interesting to see where the action takes place. (Photos below).

For dinner all of us ate a family style dinner provided by the hostel, which was surprisingly really good. Then our professor, Dr. Agostini, showed us around the downtown areas of Brussels. The city is a mixture of new and old architecture, but in the area we ventured into, it had historic buildings covered in gold. (Photos below).

You may have heard Belgium is known for a few things including: Belgium Chocolate, Belgium Waffels, and Belgium Beer. I was able to taste each of these while I was here. Now I understand why they are known for them.

At the chocolate store they gave me a truffle sample, which instantly melted in my mouth. I tried to savor the taste as long as I could, then decided it would be best to just buy some to take home.

In my family we love to eat waffles, so of course there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to eat a Belgium waffle in Belgium. I was already full so I went with a simple waffle with powdered sugar and was not let down. If there was a way to take those home, I would have! (Photo below).

Finally, Belgium is known for beer. I am not much of a beer connoisseur, but my friend did get a chocolate beer that was surprisingly delicious. I would consider it a delicious dessert.

I’m ‘chocolated’ out and still exhausted from all the traveling. My next destination is Normandy, France.

Salut! (Bye)
Kyle Ashley

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Monaco!

29 06 2012

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24 juin 2012

Today we decided to visit the country of Monaco! It’s the most scenic train ride along the Mediterranean! The mountains lead right into the sea, creating coves with clear blue water where people swim and yacht’s sit anchored. This location seems so surreal and like no place I’ve ever been which makes it hard to describe its beauty.

Directly out of the train station door is the Monaco harbor(photo below). There are elaborate yachts with Rolls Royces parked on the docks. The wealth of the city is quite evident. As I continue walking along the sea, I turn to face the city built into the mountainside; each building is built to view the endless sea.

Monte-Carlo is known for a few things and one of them is their casino. After a dress code check, no shorts or flip-flops, I was able to enter, but not some of my friends. The best word to describe it is, wow. My mouth dropped to the floor in amazement. This casino isn’t very big but the details etched into the gold on the walls, crystal chandeliers, and decorative bars could take hours to look at. (Photos of the front and back of the casino below).

Out visit in Monaco was quick due to the heat and how expensive it is. It was almost unbearable how hot it was when we were just walking around. Then when we wanted to get something to eat and drink the price was ridiculous, one restaurant, for example, was 90€ for a bowl of soup!

On the train ride back to Nice, my friend, Caroline ended up getting stuck in the bathroom. The door would not open! I really had no idea how to get her out and on trains there aren’t any workers usually around for help. Quickly, a guy sitting down, who didn’t speak any English, came to the rescue. I’m sure the panic on our face was a universal clue we needed help. We ended up missing our stop to the beach, but in the end everything worked out well and we got Caroline out safety!

Au revoir Monaco and Nice!
Kyle Ashley

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Cannes Beach

26 06 2012

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23 juin 2012

The hostel we are staying in is amazing!!!! It was voted the number 1 hostel in France and I could not agree more! I woke up well rested, had a delicious breakfast, and was ready to hit the beach!

Off to Cannes, France I go! It’s only a quick scenic train ride away. As I looked out the window the beautiful blue sea, I couldn’t wait to put my feet in the sand! Far out in the distance there are many large cruise ships, sail boats, and even jet skis! (I would be a bit afraid of falling off way out there).

When arriving in Cannes there are many people with their beach bags in hand! Not exactly knowing how to get to the beach, it was easy to find by following the crowd.

It’s amazing! (Beach photo below). The beach goes on forever in either direction! People everywhere and from so many different countries. The water is the perfect temperate and the sun is hot. I swam out to a large island of rocks with a few girls. We laid out and watched as cruise ships came in, speed boats pulled wakeboarders, and people swam in the ocean. It’s amazing how peaceful and relaxing it is, while at the same time full of energy and excitement.

I don’t want to leave this place. As much as this is a relaxing weekend, I do still feel I’m learning so much just people watching. Americans are all about the go, go, go, fast pace lifestyle that they never take the time to just stop and breath. It’s incredible how much more you see when you just observe your surroundings and take everything in, rather than just looking through a camera lens and keep on going.

At night we went out to the “Old Town” (photo of the crowded streets below) were we at in the middle of the square surrounded by football (soccer) fans. The big game, France vs Spain, was on and there is no better way to show patriotism in Europe than to cheer for your country. Unfortunately, I think I am bad luck. It was the second game I have watched and the second time they have lost…. Still it was an enjoyable night with my friends.

Bonne Nuit!
Kyle Ashley

Sent from my iPhone

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Nice is Nice!

25 06 2012

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22 juin 2012

We have arrived in Nice at 9:30 and it’s time to hit the beach! It is hot here, real HOT! I haven’t been in the sun since school got out and my body is not prepared for this. I had expected the weather in Metz to be hot, but it was nothing but cold and rainy!

With my bag on my back, I’m all set to walk to our hostel. It should not be too bad of a walk, but it is extremely hot out and the hostel is up the hill.

After what seems like forever, sweaty and tired, we get lost trying to find our hostel. Wherever we were did not look like the most friendly part of town. I walked into a small supermarket to ask the owner for help. He did NOT speak one word of English, so I tried my best with the three weeks of French I just had. Finally, 20 minutes later, he was so kind to call our hostel for help. They ended up sending a van to pick us up and settled us in! Once again we have someone up there looking after us!

First thing first, we put on our bathing suit and head to the beach! The water is beautiful! The most turquoise clear I have ever seen! The beach is also unique, because it is all pebbles and rocks. I want to do nothing more than jump in! I did, and of course I forgot how much the salt water hurts my eyes… It was still amazing laying out all afternoon, enjoying the sun and sound of the waves crashing in. The beach was a great place to people watch and see how people behave in different countries. Laying out on the beach in the south of France is definitely NOT the same in America, but maybe Miami.

At night we went to Le Lodge, which was an amazing Italian restaurant. I had the most delicious home made lasagna, while I listened to live music. There is no food I enjoy more than Italian! With Italy so close there are many options to pick from. It is too bad our plans don’t allow us to head to Italy for a few days; I’ve always wanted a plate of spaghetti and Italian meatballs in Rome!

It was then time to call it a night.
Bonne Nuit,
Kyle Ashley

Sent from my iPhone

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Last Day of Classes

24 06 2012

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21 juin 2012

Today was the last say of classes. It started off bright and early at 6:30. Hopefully this is the last day I will have to wake up that early!

I had my final French class with my favorite professor here. I spoke of him earlier, Dr. Ganglogg, and he is still my favorite professor. He makes the 8AM classes enjoyable to wake up to. His ability to involve the class, while cracking jokes, helps make the leaning environment enjoyable. I leaned not only French, but also about the French culture and traditions from him.

My final class for the program was Human Resource Management. The professor for this class is originally from Canada, and she is able to relate many business customs to America and France. Her class gave me more of an insight into what Human Resource Managers do. This is definitely a field of management I now have to consider.

The last part of the day was taking the final examination. The exam was much more difficult than I anticipated. It was a combination of material from the first week and every class this week. With our long day of classes it is difficult finding time to study. Especially, when it is important to experience the French culture at night and not just sit in the dorm rooms.

Off to the train station I go! My destitution is Nice, France which is located in the south of France along the Mediterranean Sea! In order to get there the best way is to take an overnight train, a 12 hour train ride!

The train ride really isn’t too bad. The chairs recline so it is relatively easy to sleep. After a busy three weeks of going, going, going I am exhausted enough to fall fast asleep.

Bonne nuit! (Goodnight)
Kyle Ashley

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