Monday, August 17, 2009

Lazy Weekend

Well, sort of lazy, but not really lazy in the sense that we walked at least 2 hours a day on both days, but lazy because in all that walking, we didn't really do much.
As I mentioned earlier, Saturday was a national holiday, the Assumption of Mary, which meant that everything was closed and the people of Metz flocked to our little lake on the outskirts of the city. People sunbathed, biked, roller bladed (which is still surprisingly popular here) and some pretty hardcore fishermen came out of the woodwork for the holiday weekend. Lac Symphonie is a very small, man-made lake with a man-made island just off center and it must be stocked with some large fish (I have yet to see anyone catch one) because the rods that people use here are similar to the rods I've used when cod fishing off the coast of Prince Edward Island. There are always people fishing on the banks of the lake but this weekend, two very serious fishing couples showed up with some very serious looking gear. They set up camp with two tents, some contraption on wheels that when folded out, became two very comfortable looking chairs with an umbrella and a table in the center. They also had some sort or rod holding device (also on wheels) that would hold six of these massive rods in place so that they could lay back in their chairs and wait for the fish to bite. It was a little odd to have them camping, sunbathing, and fishing just outside our dorm.
We attempted to get into GTL Saturday morning, but it was closed because of the holiday (which seemed odd, since it is normally open 24/7 for the non-French students), so we walked around and explored more of the Technopole. After a delicious lunch of saucission, cornishon, and butter sandwiches we decided to check out the Fort du Queuleu which is just on the other side of GTL. That proved to be a strange trip. There isn't much history noted in wikipedia and there is absolutly none noted at the actual fort. From what I can gather, the fort was built around 1870 in an attempt to fortify the city but was taken over and the construction finished under the German Empire and it was named Fort Goeben after a Prussian general. There is a huge gap in the wikipedia entry until 1943 when the camp was used as a Nazi Internment camp (which we were completely unaware of until we walked to the 1st casement to find it blocked off with a huge sign reading SS Sonderlager Concentration Camp 1943-1944), however, it wasn't really used as a concentration camp as it was used as a camp for interrogation resistance. The fort was evacuated in 1844 and the prisoners were sent to other camps. The only memorial to speak of was a strangly modern looking statue at the entrance of the fort, but other than that, they seem to have covered up the majority of the history. There are probably 100 caves that were built but they all have been plowed in with large mounds of dirt or filled in with cement blocks which seemed strange to me. The fort is now mainly used as a recreational area for families and an exercise course complete with numbered exercise stops with directional signs and exercise equipment (pull-up bars, etc.). It was all kind of unnerving to me.
After lunch on Sunday we walked to another lake on the other side of the highway from us. The walk was nice, through some woods and alongside a golf course, but it was very hot. The temperature was supposed to be in the low 90's yesterday, but it wasn't too unbearable with only 30% humidity (which felt amazing to us, coming from Pittsburgh where the humidity is never below 60% it seems). The Lake, Lac Ariane, is exactly the same as Lac Symphonie, small, man-made, with an off-center island, so that turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment. After we got home, we made some killer Coque au Vin with a Provencial rosé, chicken legs and thighs, some local plums (mirabelles) and haricots verts.
Hope everyone is enjoying a little bit of summer back home!

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