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Yesterday, Anna and I went to Sedan. Sedan is this relatively small town about 30 minutes away by train with Europe's largest château in it. The place was huge (duh, hence why it was famous). It had been built up in 6 stages beginning back in the 1300's, I think. We got audioguides and wandered around. The tour takes you through the guard rooms mostly, and then a bit of outside. I took a ton of pictures, which I promise to upload later this weekend. The coolest part was how they described building the ramparts. (You should know that word from the National Anthem, but in case you never knew what it meant.... Ramparts are wall fortifications that were added to castles and forts after the cannonball started being made out of harder metals, because the old walls couldn't handle the pressure. It was a type of cement called, wait for it ... rampart, that they added between the layers of stone.) In the case of this particular château, the walls had increased from 14 to 26 feet thick when the ramparts were added.
The second best part was when they described how part of the building had been destroyed. As it turns out, the fortress was good, but after awhile, it becoame obsolete, so the military stopped using it as a base, and just maintained it as barracks. (I am of the opinion that the building wasn't obsolete, just its location in the middle of nowhere.) It had four main extensions, one for the king, one for his wife, one added for some princes in the 1700's and then the governor's section. While standing on top of the remaining east tower, you get to look out over the remains of the governor's old building. When Nobel had first discovered dynamite, they were experimenting with it (as soldiers will do, I imagine), and in the process the entire governor's extension was practically demolished. Now, aren't you glad we give out the NOBEL prize to smart people? (This is said in all sarcasm, because I am relatively certain that Nobel himself was not actually there at this point, and the experiments with the dynamite were intentional.)
Anywho, the trip was good, although a slight bust, because we were hoping to go to this big Halloween festival they were having, but all of the tickets had already been sold out. Bummer. I think Anna and I would have had quite an interesting time though, because it would have been a nightime tour, lit by tea candles. We are both afraid of the dark. I think it would have been brilliant (note that I mean this in both the American and British sense of the word).
Funny story from our adventure: We sat down to lunch in a café (because that is what you do here), and we proceeded to talk about, well, whatever came up. After a short time, some mid-teenage gils came and sat behind us. They caught on to us speaking English, and started to say whatever random phrases came to their heads. They then moved on to some choice phrases that are too disgusting to even type into this dialogue. I thought it was incredibly rude, and Anna and I started talking about how they could have possibly learned these phrases, considering NO ONE would have ever even thought about this in school. We didn't say anything mean about the girls, but, I was highly disappointed that these were the types of things that got exported. The only suposition I could successfully support was that they had gotten it from rap music or really stupid movies. Anyway, Anna and I move off this topic and just ignore the grotesque things they are saying to each other, until the girls get up to leave. Then, one of the girls turns around, with immense attitude and says, "Just so you know, I'm American." I had two things running through my mind: 1. What did I do to offend this girl? and 2. Where the heck is she from that she didn't recognize that I was American too? (Later, thought 2 progressed to, "Where are you from, because on the east coast we don't teach those types of manners?) Anna and I thought it was super strange that she didn't recognize my accent, and that she thought we were being rude when she had been sitting in the middle of an outdoor restaurant chanting sexual phrases and swear words at the top of her voice, just so we could hear her. It was a waste of energy to even think about it really, but it was frustrating to me because her french was quite good - which meant she had been here for awhile, or at least known french for awhile, and if everyone in this small town knew she was American, no wonder they didn't necessarily like America. Everytime I meet one of these stupid kids, I have to think to myself that this is why we have such a bad reputation. At least it boosts my spirits into being a good representative. Idiot child.
So, after that, we took the train back to Charleville. I stopped at the pharmacy, because I am sick again, and the Chloraseptic I have with me just isn't doing the trick. Pharmacies here have really strong medicine that is usually only available by presciption at home. I carefully explained my ailment to the pharmacist (swollen tonsils, sore throat, no fever) and she tried to give me a french version of Chloraseptic. I read the package and told her that my stuff like this was not working, and did she have anything else? She gave me Strepsils. These are losenges like chloraseptic stuff at home that numb your throat. The first one really worked. Since then, they have been dramatically less effective each time I take one, but luckily I think the worst of my illness is gone. Also, I am pretty sure I cannot get strep while taking these things, which is good news.
Then we went to the grocery store to get some stuff for supper before we went home. I made Alsacian salad for dinner. This is a salad that comes from Alsace, and consists of regular salad with roasted potatoes, thick chunks of bacon, and a poached egg on top. I didn't make it exactly to order (red russet potatoes that were sauteed with spices - not as good as Mom's - and an over easy egg - both with broken yolks due to culinary equipment problems -to replace the similar items), but it was still delicious. The only real way to describe this salad is to say it is like southern breakfast on top of a salad... yummy and healthy... loving it!
We ate and watched dubbed American series all night on TV, including a triple play of Sex in the City. Ah, nothing like a girls night in after a historical afternoon. All in all, it was a pretty good day.
(I know that I have missed a bunch of days, and I blame this on power outages, the 6th Harry Potter-currently bookmarked 20 pages before the end, illness, and the outside lights being turned off. I promise to give you at least a run-down soon. However, at the moment, I have to do some research for next week's lessons.) Love, hugs, and kisses, ~Heather