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ABCs of GTL (P to T) August 4, 2011

Posted by Layla Marshall in Travel Log.

P:  Premier Jour de L’ete (First Day of Summer)—Metz, France.  On June 21st, Metz celebrated the first day of summer in traditional French fashion by having a free music festival downtown.  Music of all kinds was present, and every street had a different artist performing.  Several of the larger bands sang songs in English and French, so I was even able to understand some of the words!

Q:  SP-->Q<–R—aka SPQR, the emblem of Rome, Italy.  I wrote about my trip to Italy earlier, but I wanted to spend a little more time on Rome (and I needed some sort of “Q” for my ABCs!).  We spent two days exploring the city, and we managed to see everything on our list.  Day one included Castel St. Angelo, the Vatican (St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel), the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, delicious pizza for dinner, and the Spanish Steps at night.

Day two started with the Coliseum and continued to Palatine Hill and the forums, the Capitoline museums, Piazza Venezia, Palazzo del Quirinale, a pyramid on the outskirts of the historic district, Circus Maximus, delicious pasta for dinner, another visit to the Trevi, and a walk past Tiber Island on our way back to the hostel.  Lots of gelato made the heat and walking easier to deal with!

R:  Rothenburg, Germany—Schneeballen and medieval walls.  The same weekend I went to Trier, I visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a cute, touristy historic town and the best-preserved medieval walled city in Germany.  Rothenburg is famous for schneeballen (“snowballs”), pastries originally made with the extra dough that accumulates in a bakery and nowadays deliberately sprinkled with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate.  I decided to try one for breakfast, and it was delicious.  My favorite part of Rothenburg was getting to walk along the wall and looking out at the valley below through the small windows and arrow slits.  We happened across a group of musicians walking around town dressed in period costumes playing medieval music, and this helped transport us back to the time when Rothenburg was a thriving market town.

S:  Stonehenge—Salisbury, England.  On my trip to London to see the last Harry Potter movie, my group took a day trip via train and bus to Stonehenge.  It might not have been the most action-packed adventure of the summer, but it was definitely high on my list of things to do while in England.  I enjoyed getting to see in person the site I’ve so often seen in pictures, and getting to stop at the site of the old Salisbury on the way back into town was an added bonus.  Old Sarum was a castle-like complex a few kilometers from the heart of modern-day Salisbury, and the stones from its cathedral were recycled as the wall around the current Salisbury Cathedral.

T:  Trains.  Trains are an amazing form of transportation, and investing in a global two- or three-month rail pass was my best decision all summer.  High-speed trains are neat, but I especially loved being able to jump on a regional train and just go, not worrying about planning and making reservations in advance.  Seats were scarce a few times, but overall I had a wonderful experience with Europe’s main mode of mass transportation.  I’m going to miss the convenience of train-riding when I get back to America.  I celebrated the last day of my rail pass’s validity by riding a train to and from dinner at Chi-Chi’s, a delicious Tex-Mex restaurant frequented by GTL students, in Luxembourg City.



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