domingo, 19 de febrero de 2012




It is still winter. A sluggish freezing wet breeze is blowing. Kirchberg is shrouded in a white light fog and some snowflakes are falling over our heads. We are awaiting the bus to Strasbourg. We are supposed to leave Luxembourg at 8.00 in the morning. Finally, we manage to start our journey at 8.15. This is going to be our first time at the European Parliament based in Strasbourg, one of the most ancient and wonderful cities in all of France. Nerves are taking over some people, but it does not matter. We are all inside this melting pot of cultures and languages as translation trainees at the European Parliament. We all agree this is going to be an experience not to be forgotten.

After one hour of travelling, we are still on the road. People are getting bored and someone conquers his fear to sing in front of an audience. Amazing live improvised concert on the bus microphone almost till the end of the trip.

Two hours and a half after leaving Luxembourg, we get to the EP and we all pass the security checks. It is snowing heavily and the floor is a little bit slippery, so we take care not to fall. Once we are inside the buildings, we receive our allowances and we attend a presentation about interpretation at the EP and a plenary sitting both held at the Louise Weiss (LOW) building. This last one is really exciting. Some people focus their attention on the interpretation, while others try to get to the heart of these speeches since we are not all translators. In the meantime, we have enough time to discover a little bit more about the EP, eat at the stressful overcrowded cafeteria and explore other buildings such as Salvador de Madariaga (SDM) and Winston Churchill (WIC). There is also time to take some beautiful pictures for future memories and build relationships while the murmur of conversations is roaring along the woody corridors of LOW like waves coming and going when breaking on the shore.

After a few hours, this first visit comes to an end. Time to take our luggage and enjoy the evening in the city after leaving our belongings in the hotels. The night is still young and everyone makes the most of this spare time to hang around the centre, go to a pub or simply sleep.


It has already stopped snowing. The sun is rising over the horizon. It is about 8.00 in the morning. Time to wake up for the second day of our visit at the EP. Time to quench our thirst for European knowledge. We have already met at the entrance at 9.00. The night was too short. This is the reason why tiredness may be seen our faces. Anyway, we are all awaiting the time of the next presentation to come. It is not disappointing at all. Ryan Meilak is a good speaker. His way of speaking captures our attention, so that we are all trying to focus on what he is talking about: the work and the role of EP.

Following this presentation, he gives the floor to one of the fourteen Vice-Presidents of the EP, the British MEP Edward McMillan-Scott. He has the gift of knowing how to give a perfect speech in front of an audience. He does not look nervous at all. Sometimes experience is the best teacher. It is possible that we do not all share his points of view about certain issues which are being raised. Anyway, he never forgets to say: it is just my opinion. Some people are curious. They want to know a little bit more about his ideas and they raise some interesting questions. He does not take so long to answer without any sign of hesitation. He spends half an hour of his time with us. At the end, he does not forget to say goodbye adding: thanks for this talk.

Following this, we attend to another plenary sitting about how to tackle youth unemployment among other issues. In the meantime, we are waiting for the voting time to come. We have two further presentations after eating in a crowdy noisy cafeteria which is the heartbeat of politics in Europe. We are going to learn more about how the European Ombudsman Office works and a little bit more about the Council of Europe, one of the most global institutions. Interesting presentation and visit. Later, we enjoy the last rays of sunshine over the city while returning to our respective hotels. We are going to embark on the Strasbourg nightlife adventure until we are overcome by tiredness. Strasbourg can spew life onto its streets and alleys even on a Wednesday evening.


It is 9.30. The first time EP translation trainees are going to visit it. Time to enrich our knowledge about the European Court of Human Rights. We are invited there to see an interesting short movie titled “Conscience of Europe”. We are inside a very avant-garde building that I take a careful look at. Then, we go upstairs to have a meeting with a translator from the Translation Service of the Court. He tells us how this service works and some people raise some questions to explore this issue in a little more detail. After less than one hour in which we have the chance to visit the place where public hearings take place at the Court, we are leaving the building. We will have five hours of free-time to roam along the marvellous cobblestone streets of “La Petite France” and give our particular tribute to some historic places such as the National Library. While crossing the bridges leading to both sides of the waterways, some people are surveying the urban old-fashioned landscape. It is sometimes so mesmerizing that you feel like you are within a peaceful backwater melting your heart.

But beauty and fun do not last forever. They are like dust in the wind. After this, we take the bus to return to Luxembourg. It is time to say goodbye for the moment. Two hours of our exhausting trip remain until we are “home sweet home”. Meanwhile, Strasbourg will continue to glow with a European spirit we have had the chance to enjoy. See you later Strasbourg.

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