I’ve been slacking on my blogging! Time to catch up on some stuff. Last week we took an excursion through my program to tour some historical sights relating to the Battle of the Bulge, a famous WWII battle. This day was the longest, coldest day so far. We had to wake up at the crack of dawn (not cool) and we took a bus for about two hours to get to Bastogne. We stopped there, grabbed our tour guide (he was 9 years old during WWII and he witnessed the battle) and continued on to the American Military Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg. General Patton is buried here along with over 5,000 Americans. It reminded me of DC.
This was definitely a cool thing to see. After WWII the government allowed the families of the dead soldiers to decide where their final resting place would be whether that was in the city they died in, the United States, or another place of their choice. So it was interesting to see how many Americans are buried in Luxembourg by choice of their families.
After the cemetery we went to the Bastogne Barracks and looked around. This is where the famous “Nuts!” expression happened. Apparently we responded to a German telegram (maybe?) saying “Nuts!” as in “Shoot”, “Bummer”, “Oh man”, etc etc. and this really confused the Germans. I think this is generally the story but I’m not sure. I was honestly way too cold to pay much attention to what was going on/what the tour guide was saying. He was a talker and insisted on telling us all information outside in the freezing cold.
The barracks were pretty cool. The most exciting thing was discovering that a mannequin in one of their displays looked just like one of the kids on our program. It was actually too funny.
After this we went to see another American Battle of the Bulge memorial. It’s shaped like a star and has all the states listed around the top border. Again, I felt like I was in DC. This memorial was cool though because you’re able to climb up to the top and have a really great view of the surrounding town of Bastogne. Unfortunately we went on a really crummy day and so we couldn’t see very far, and it was even more freezing on top of the monument, but it was still pretty awesome.
Last, but not least, we stopped in a forest to see some foxholes. By this time it was about 6pm and I was frozen, tired, hungry, and really not feeling it. I was very tempted to stay on the warm and comfy coach bus until we arrived at our restaurant but thank goodness I got off the bus. This was by far my favorite part of the day! Not even because of the foxholes but just because the forest was so beautiful and really different from the forested areas I’m used to in Colorado. It was absolutely stunning!! One downside, it had just snowed the slipperiest snow of my life and my boots have no traction… So I think you know what that means. Yep, I ate it. Hard. It was one of those extra embarrassing falls too because I couldn’t get up and redeem myself, the snow was just that slippery. At least my first fall in Belgium was in a stunning forest, right?
As always with our CIEE excursions/scheduled activities we ended the day with an amazing dinner. Yummm. We arrived back in Brussels pretty late and I booked it to my bed.
In other news, we took a daytrip to Ghent yesterday which was absolutely amazing. Working on a post for that later tonight! It was an amazing city and I would definitely recommend it to anyone traveling in Belgium or Europe. Also, Paris next weekend, Budapest in three weeks, Cologne and Amsterdam in March, and Spain, Morocco, and Italy for spring break! Things are about to get crazy!