Monday, December 12, 2011

Marché de Noël

I went on another Rotary event and this time we went to Germany. The Rotary trips are the highlights of my life because they are super extraordinary. It's also refreshing to see old and new faces. After I took the train to Welkenraedt all the foreign exchange students boarded a bus for Aachen. The buses are somewhat chaotic because there are people everywhere and when the bus turns or jumps over a bump everyone sways. I was standing in the doorway because all the seats where taken. When the bus turned my friend and I did a nose dive into the crowd of people sitting on the bus floor. The innocent exchange students were not too happy but it was funny doing a little crowd surfing on the bus. When we arrived at Aachen the Rotary leaders brought us to an a famous building. The Germans gave us a warm welcome and served us wine and orange juice. One of the middle-aged German Women leaders told us some history and showed us many paintings. I recall one story in particular about the man who invented the sandwich. His story interests me and I will relay it to you.
     A british statesman named John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. In 1762, Montagu was gambling with some friends because he loves to play cards. He was hungry but did not want to stop playing so he commanded his cooks to prepare a dish that would not cause a mess. The cook gave him sliced meat between two slices of break and eureka! The sandwich was born. In truth it was Montagu's cook who invented the sandwich but no one wrote his name down to give him credit. The Germans recognize this Englishman because he helped end a war and also because he is the sandwich guy.
     After our long, interesting history lesson all the foreign exchange students flooded the streets of the Marché de Noël à Aix-la-Chapelle (the German Christmas markets). I enjoyed lollygagging with my friends and we met many attractive German guys. I found a little chocolate market and bought some chocolate bars for my host family. Chocolate is the perfect gift because its not sexist and it tastes delicious, but if this person is allergic than gift finder must be more creative (fortunately I do not know anyone who  is allergic to chocolate). The vender who sold me the chocolate spoke excellent english and was extremely nice. He gave me extra chocolate for free. My biggest mistake was forgetting to ask for his facebook address. I know some German and attempted to speak with the citizens but I noticed that many people in Germany know english, nevertheless, I find it amusing to speak other languages. After a few hours all the Rotary people gathered together to drink hot wine, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider. Rotary gave us tickets to receive the drinks and we got to keep the mugs! There must have been at least 50 people and Rotary paid for everyone. I always wonder where the money comes from. I felt relieved to drink something hot because it was raining hail and slush. The bus ride home was short and in no time everyone arrived at the train station. The Rotary leaders distributed christmas chocolates to everyone as another gift (they are so generous). When I found a moment to look at the board with the times for the trains my heart skipped a beat. My train was going to arrive in 4 minutes. A whole bunch of exchange students, including me, sprinted to the train stop. When we got there everyone turned around and ran back the other way because the board had written the wrong train station area. Luckily everyone made it to the train and boarded before it left. It was a sight to see with all these high schoolers running around the train station.

     My first voyage into Germany was great. I got to do some crowd surfing on a bus, learn some history about sandwiches, drank and ate gifts from Rotary, and almost miss my train. I managed to buy christmas presents for my family and friends and so I was even more satisfied. My greatest wish is to return to Germany and their christmas markets in the future.

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