Some things that are probably important to know about this trip that I haven't mentioned.
1. We haven't been sleeping much on this trip.
Specifically, we've been getting up really early (6 A.M., roughly) (which is really early when you haven't become a morning person yet and you're still struggling against the time zones and you're in college)
2. Most people on the trip are using the nights to go out and party after dinner. Every night.
This becomes very entertaining, very quickly, as they can't function the next morning.
3. It's been raining. Every day. All day.
4. It's much cooler there than it is here in Kansas. Like, 20 degrees cooler.
5. It has become impossible to NOT sleep on the bus.
So, after the day of deep-thinking, being very existential, and death, we started the next day on the bus. This is how every day starts, because it's impossible to want to go anywhere that's less than (at least) an hour away. Not surprisingly, we spent the trip sleeping.
We were all waking up at intermittent times, but eventually, Roby pulled the bus over. While we were just driving down the road. And we had no idea what was going on.
Seriously, I was worried we had angered him and he was going to kick us all off. Or that we were really being kidnapped. Or that wherever we were going wasn't actually a place at all, but some "historic site" out in the middle of nowhere.
Or that we had all gotten on the wrong bus and were now going to be experimented on.*
In reality, we had gotten out of the bus because we had had one of the first glimpses of our destination. It took all of the zoom on my camera to get this shot, and it's still not the best.
That, my friends, is Mont St. Michel. It's gorgeous. (Though if I have to tell you that, we need to talk.)
So, by this point, we all get really excited. I mean, we're going THERE. That place, far off in the distance. It's a freaking castle! We all scrambled back onto the bus, and hurried along.
Only to be stopped by this...
And you thought I was kidding about the sheep thing.
This was absolutely fascinating to all of us. We were all cramming to the front of the bus, trying to get pictures of sheep. It's like we had never really seen sheep before in our entire lives.
Well, I hadn't. Not really though. I mean, if you could the Kansas State Fair, then yes. I've even seen a sheep sheared. But I've never seen them out in the fields (that I can remember) and I've REALLY never seen them being herded by an actual sheep dog. That was really impressive.
And the thing is, there were sheep EVERYWHERE. In every field around us. You could see them from St. Michel. It was ridiculous.
Sheep don't like to move very quickly. Or in a nice line.
I told you we took a lot of pictures.
So after we acted like third grade city people who've never seen farm animals before in their life, except for on TV, The Great Road Sheep Infestation of 2011** ended and we were on our way.
So we park the bus and start walking up to this:
So, a few more things you should know. As you can see from this picture, St. Michel is surrounded by a little town. That's very adorable and medieval and touristy. The whole place is basically an island. When we got there, we started climbing a lot of stairs. Because, when there's a chance to see a view from the top, you'd be stupid not to take it. Even when you're afraid of heights. (Which I am not.)
Stairs! And Madeline.
This picture, and the one before it, were approximately halfway-up.
So when we got to the top, as seen in these last two pictures, the view was pretty impressive.
The stairs that we were climbing had two different options at this point. The first, keep going. Into the Abbey that sits at the top. For 10 Euro (I think). The second, go back down and hang out in the town. The group split up at this point, and since I had seen everything else on the little island that I thought was cool, I decided to go into the Abbey.
So, Clint, who is a grad student on the trip (though not in charge), decided that because there were so many of us, we were going to try to get in for the group price. There were ten of us. We were students. We should get a discount, right? In order to do this, Clint posed as our "teacher" (cue laughter), and we gave him our ID's (because they needed proof that we were students) and money and he went off to buy our tickets.
We stood around, waiting for Clint to come back with our tickets, in the line designated for groups. (We also decided to do this because we thought it would be cool to get a tour and learn about stuff... Because we're cool like that.) We waited... And waited... And waited.
Clint, who is the most proficient at speaking French out of all of us, came back a little disheartened. (Oh, he came back twice. The first was to get our ID's to prove we were students. This was the second.) Because we needed twenty students, they wouldn't give us the reduced rate for a group. So he handed back our ID's and our money and we all bought tickets separately.
Which totally ended up working because we got student discounts. Which ended up being several Euros*** less than the normal rate. We were very happy.
So we started walking, after spending 20 minutes trying to make our master plan work. By this point, we are very conscious of what time it is. We have a time limit, you see. We only have an hour to make it through the abbey. This is fine, except for the fact that we're all walking as a group, and of course, everyone walks at different speeds. Cue "Où est Billy? jokes." (This will make sense in a little bit, I promise.) It also becomes apparent, that I don't want to walk through the abbey slowly. It's gorgeous.
This will start my fascination of churches, cathedrals, and abbeys. For the rest of the trip, I will be utterly amazed by them and unable to walk with my mouth closed. I'm also the only one on the trip who does NOT get tired of them.
A couple other things you should know before I cue the photo marathon.
1. My camera was dying.
2. My video camera died the day before and I forgot to charge it.
And now, for the most photos you have ever seen of one place! I'm not going to explain them, for the most part. But I hope you enjoy them.
I wish I had more pictures to show you how awesome this place was. Granted, I have a few more pictures that I didn't upload, but that's because I have a football game to go to right now.
Now you know why this entire post was dedicated to one place. I'll post later about how we spent the rest of the day and how much public French speaking skills need some work.
*That's a serious concern. It could happen, you know.
** Shut up. You come up with a good name for it. Also, I think this is a pretty common experience for everyone who lives there.
***Segway. Is Euros supposed to be capitalized? Euros... euros... I have no idea.