Posted tagged ‘Europe’

Take a Breather

April 14, 2009

By Steve Marshall, Senior Business Student

We had set a pretty detailed plan before leaving, and it packed a lot into the first few days of our break.

Rome was a weeklong whirlwind already, and even though we had two days in Venice and two in Milan, it still felt like we were rushing (notice: a pun could be made here about being American, not Russian). As we were coming in to Nice, that feeling changed.

I had never heard of it, but apparently Nice is a pretty famous European beach town. It’s right on the shores of the Mediterranean, and is full of tourists from around the EU, especially during the summer. That made finding lodging easy, because of just how many little hotels there were to support the summer crowds. Since we showed up in the off season, plenty of rooms were empty, and some places were willing to drop their prices in order to get our business.

We did a bit of looking, and found a couple really nice places that would give us a room for inside our budget. We ended up settling on the one that wasn’t across from a sex shop (there were actually a lot of these in France, I was highly disappointed). The guy at the desk was named ‘Bader’ (bah-der), and was super nice. We came in later on with chicken from the grocery store, and just so we didn’t have to eat it cold, he let use the staff microwave in the hotel employee’s break room to warm it up. Great hospitality.

Since we were stuck here for the next couple days, we rescheduled our hotel in Lourdes, and canceled the one in Barcelona. A lot like what I did as a producer for the school, I had prepared a logistics document for our trip with all the information we could possibly need, and it really paid off. It was a little sad that we wouldn’t be able to see Barcelona, but since we were in a French beach town instead of a Spanish beach town, it wasn’t too disappointing overall.

It was an interesting city. The center of town was very much designed for people to congregate, there were huge, stone-paved streets set aside purely for pedestrians, gardens, and in the town square, there was a set of 8 huge columns in the middle of the street, with sculptures of naked men in athletic poses, which lit up at night and changed colors. I don’t know what they represented, but they were kinda cool to look at. It was either really classy or just kinda funky. I never really decided which…

We walked around the city a lot. Walking to the beach, then to the grocery store, then back to the beach for a picnic… we also collected some ‘souvenir water.’

It’s somewhat of a peculiar habit, but a few years ago I started collecting water from far off, adventury places. We have some friends that live on an island off the coast of Alabama, and on one visit, we found an old bottle washed up on the beach with its cover completely intact. I used it to gather some ocean water from the Gulf of Mexico, and then put it on the shelf of my library when I got home. After that a friend brought me back some water from Hawaii, my sister got me some in Canada on her honeymoon, and the collection has continued to grow. I like having it because of how unique it is, easy to tell stories about, and you can also get it at a fairly low cost.

Of course, with all the fantastic places we were going on this trip, I HAD to get water from some key spots in Europe. The trick was getting it into containers that were small enough to be easily transportable, and wouldn’t make our luggage impossible to check at the airport. In Venice, we emptied a little bottle of mouthwash to get water from the canals, and I had also filled a water bottle at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. When we finished our picnic on the shores of the Mediterranean, we had an empty jelly jar. It was small, it was round enough to be quaint (kinda a pot-bellied little thing), so into the surf we go, and came out with the jar of water, and some pebbles and sea glass to sit in the bottom. Looking at these three containers of water, it was decided that the Trevi bottle was far too big. Luckily, a couple of the stores we had visited sold these teeny little wine bottles for really cheap, so the Trevi water was relocated to a much classier container.

We had also found a church in our explorations, so in the evening we wandered down that way and ended up at mass for the feast of St. Joseph.

I tell ya, French is such a cool language. They use a lot of sounds and mouth-shapes that Americans never even dream of! The prayers of the mass sounded so strange, I almost burst into a laugh at the beginning of mass. I definitely would like to learn French at some point, just so I can have an excuse to say words like that.


The Human Experience

February 28, 2009

At JP Catholic, we often discuss culture and how to impact it. Our mission is to Impact the Culture for Christ, so you can see we are a little obsessed by it. The sophomores and juniors are leaving for Europe in March (actually tomorrow). We are taking a class in Global Cultures and the purpose of the class is to better understand other cultures, especially in comparison with our own. I was reflecting on the culture of Ireland, and the similarities we have with the Irish. I was reminded of a movie that JP Catholic screened called The Human Experience. It was made by Grassroots Films and here is the trailer below:

The Human Experience did an excellent job of highlighting the sameness of the human family. They highlighted different aspects of the human experience through different continents and different cultures, but they showed how they were the same across the human family. The showed the unity of the human family in a very powerful and convincing fashion. The sameness of the human family cannot be discounted. We are all the same, we have brains, toes, thoughts, fingerprints, dreams, ideas, hair, desires, and fears.

As I prepare for our trip to Europe and more importantly Rome, I am overjoyed to share in this experience with our human family. What better place than Rome, the Capital of our Catholic Faith to experience the greater human family. Every race of people will be gathered to celebrate our faith, with Jesus Christ as One Body, one human family.

P.S. If you haven’t seen The Human Experience you should. JP Catholic gets to watch cool movies like that all the time.