We went to Bilbao in the Basque country of Spain. The area has had a history of violence from the terrorist organization ETA, which advocates Basque independence, but two days before we arrived, there was a report that ETA disbanded. Also, when we woke up on the first morning there, we awoke to find out that the King of Spain was visiting. It was an incredible moment in internal Spanish politics and we may have been present for history being made.
Hey everyone! One of the groups favorite stops so far was the beautiful Mont St.Michel, located just off the coast of Normandy France. Mont St. Michel was officially inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1979. The church-abbey uses both roman and gothic architecture, and features a graveyard, cathedral, and museum inside it’s wall. Our group was lucky enough to explore this amazing site at nightfall, with only the sounds of our footsteps to hear. Our next stop is Bilbao, Spain! Au Revoir!
Today we went to Omaha Beach, one of the D-Day beaches. Being alone in such an emotional place was a really moving experience. After appreciating the monument, we walked down to the water and quietly meditated the history that surrounded us. Walking back up the beach, it was hard not to imagine those who had lost their lives serving their nations. We didn’t have much time to spend there, so we concluded our visit with a group reflection session and collective moment of silence. As we stood hand-in-hand, the only sounds were the wind and the repetitive peal of a pulley colliding with a flagpole. The raw emotion of our surroundings made it easy to forget the wind and the cold.
Photos at Omaha Beach
Today, we left Paris for Mont St. Michel. It seems the long drives we have in the vans will give us ample time for reflection, and serve as a nice change of pace from the hectic days we spend in the cities. In Paris, though most were still suffering from jet lag, and some were suffering from food poisoning, we managed to see and learn much in our short time there. We spent a long time on purposeful walks through the city, first in the neighborhood around our hostel, and next through the heart of the city. The walks allowed us to see and appreciate many of the city’s landmarks while gaining a sense of the unique layout of the streets and districts of the French capital. We spent a few hours at the Musee D’Orsay, where we were tasked with finding and comparing awe-inspiring works of art, and reporting back with their historical context. Finally, we took a driving tour of the city in our vans, through which we able to truly appreciate the enormity and cultural impact of this amazing city. We ended in the historical and beautiful Montmartre district, known for being the working hearth of the greatest Parisian artists. We drove for 8 hours to reach our hotel near Mont St. Michel, stopping along the way to remember the losses suffered on Omaha Beach, during which we held a reflective moment of silence. Tomorrow, we visit the beautiful walled island of Mont St. Michel, so expect us to post a lot of pictures!
Bonjour! We are all absolutely loving Paris! This is only a few of the sights that we’ve been able to see in the past few days, we’ve been super busy taking it all in! Although it is difficult to understand all of the French (with many times we’ve had to use charades to get our point across), the people here have been pretty great. The food has also been fantastic, the last picture showing a group of us eating in a French restaurant. We all love this city!