Day 13: Reims

Before I left the hostel this morning, I bought 200 GB of online storage from Google. I’m in the process of uploading all my pictures (at their original resolution) to Picasa web albums for people to download and so I can use it as a backup. My internet connection is somewhat slow in the hostel (I’ve been uploading continuously since Thursday night and I’m only 20% done) but they should all be uploaded by Sunday.

I went downstairs, ate breakfast (half a roll of French bread with strawberry jam) and then walked to the center of Reims. It was chilly this morning, about 65°F, and foggy. I walked into Notre Dame de Reims and it was completely empty. I took some pictures, but figured that I would come back when the sun was out so I could get better pictures and use a faster shutter speed.

As I waited for a museum to open, I walked into the train station to reserve my tickets. On Sunday, I am going to Belgium for about a week and spending time with my Great Uncle Tom. Belgium is fairly small and has a lot of historic site that I am looking forward to seeing. I talked to an English speaking ticket agent and it turns out that I’m going to leave Reims around 9:15am, go back to Paris, make a couple transfers, and then end up in Mons in the afternoon around 3pm. I had to reserve two TGV trains at the high cost of 3 Euros a piece. I’m still not sure if my Eurail pass will be cheaper in the long run or not, but if nothing else, it certainly is a lot more convenient. On trains that aren’t high speed, I can just walk on and sit anywhere I want. No waiting in line, no non-English ticket agents.

After I bought my tickets, I made my way to the Museum of the Surrender, the place where the Germans officially surrendered in World War II and ended the war in Europe. It was located on a street that one wouldn’t normally I watched a short video about the war, and then walked upstairs to see the room. It has been kept in its original condition, complete with ashtrays and huge maps lining the walls.

I walked back to the city center, took some pictures of Notre Dame while the sun was out, and then stopped in a grocery store to buy some lunch. I got tired of eating out all the time to I decided to buy some cheese and crackers for lunch. I was going to buy some beer too, but I wouldn’t be able to keep it cold.

After lunch, I went to a champagne tour at Tattinger. It was good – not the worst tour but definitely not the best. They took us into the chalk caves, told us about the making of champagne, and then had a tasting. I would have gone on a different tour, but Tattinger is the only one that you don’t have to make reservations.

I ran into the Basilica of Saint Remi on my way back to the hostel and it was the prettiest church/cathedral I’ve seen so far (except for Chartres). Even though it had Romanesque architecture, the inside was well lit and I managed to take some good pictures. On my way out, I notice some people were lingering inside the church and were dressed in black. I was worried that I walked in on the end of a funeral, and here I was taking pictures. But once I got outside, I saw it was a wedding and I managed to take a picture of the new couple as they entered their car:

I came back to the hostel to meet two new roommates: a Canadian named Josh and Frenchmen named Guillione. I talked with Josh for about 45 minutes, about growing up in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and about traveling. He just got done spending a week in Iceland and told me all about the crazy culture they have there – too much to type.

I don’t have any plans for tomorrow, probably just going to lay back and relax. I’ve been meaning to write all the blog entries in my leather bound journal, but the longer they get, the harder it is to copy them down. Hopefully I’ll get caught up tomorrow.

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