I had already met most of my classmates before this point, but it was as if we were actually meeting for the first time at this train station in France. Once everyone had arrived we traveled together to our final destination, Cluny, via a two hour ride on the TGV (the European bullet train system) and then an hour bus ride. When we arrived in Cluny it seemed as if I had stepped out of the 21st century and back into the medieval ages. Where we're staying now is literally 50 feet away from what was once the center of Christianity in the 11th and 12th century. The town of Vitry-les-Cluny is dominated by an abbey that was constructed in the medieval ages and then became the largest monastery in all of the Europe at the height of its power.
Growing up in New Jersey I've never experienced something with such an old and rich heritage as Cluny. It's amazing to be able to reach out and touch something that's older than America itself, let alone something that's almost a thousand years older than America. Although Cluny has a very large medieval influence it still contains the French culture that we all imagine when thinking of France. With bakeries, cafes, and wine shops galore, and roads that are only wide enough for one car, Cluny is a very intimate European town.
For our first night in Cluny we went to one of the town's wine shops that was expecting us for a wine and cheese tasting. Wait, what? Aren't you supposed to be studying microbiology, Scott? Hold on, there's more. Also attending this tasting was the mayor of Cluny, who was actually a very friendly and genial frenchman. So, we started the tasting, mayor included, and tasted the wines of the region, which are Chardonnay, Pinor Noir, and Gammé. And of course, everything was absolutely delicious. The four different types of cheeses, two salamis and baguette were amazing, especially washed down with a sip of some Burgundian wine.
It was an amazing first day in Cluny, and I can't wait to see what it has in store for me tomorrow.