Sunday, August 8, 2010
Internet was hard to find during the rest of the trip so I never really had a good chance to update the blog. So, we left Interlaken, Switzerland where we did the crazy swing/bungee jump thing. We then set out for Luzern which is also in Switzerland. The drive was absolutely beautiful. There were waterfalls around every corner. The photography became a little monotonous as we passed waterfall after waterfall and gorgeous countryside views at ever look. Anyway, Luzern is this really neat city right on a huge lake. We got into town and returned the rental car and had nowhere to go. We walked around looking for the cheapest hotel possible. All the “cheap” hotels weren’t cheap by any means. They were running at least around 110 dollars a night. And on top of that there was not room in the hotels. We called around and finally found a hostel for a decent price and dropped our stuff off there. It was nighttime and raining but that didn’t keep us from doing a little bit of site-seeing. The city has a great covered bridge and castle like structures. It was really a shame we had to leave the next morning.
So we then got up early the next morning to walk to the train station to catch our 5 hour train ride to Frankfurt, Germany to visit Juliane and her family. They were there waiting for us at the train station when we arrived. It was great to see them. From the train station we headed to a steakhouse called the Blockhouse where we were meeting the rest of the Family. There are 5 people in her family: Julian, her 17 year old brother Philipp, Miriam, her Mom Cristiana and Dad Willie. It was a pretty pricey place to eat but the family is so sweet they wouldn’t let us pay for anything. The food was great and afterwards April and I went with the 3 kids to a “blind” museum. It was a very interesting place. At the museum we spent about a hour and half playing these games where you improve communication skills. It was pretty fun. The second half of the museum tour was very interesting. We are given blind sticks and led into a completely dark room where we are led through a pitch-black city tour by a blind man. It was pretty interesting to be completely blind and be led around and feel different things and go into different environments. It was pretty fun.
The next day we went with the whole family on an exciting monument and castle tour. We drove out of the city a little ways to this really cool town Rudesheim along the Rhine river. From there we took a chair lift to the top of a big hill where there is a big monument erected in the 1800’s during the French-German war. From there we went on a long walk and another chair lift down the hill to this other cute German town where we got on a boat to cross the river to an awesome castle that we had to hike to where we had a self-guided tour and a picnic. And then got on another boat ride up the Rhine to the town where we started. The Rhine river is huge. There are 400 foot long oil tankers that run up and down the river all day. I didn’t know that the river started in Switzerland and runs through Germany and all the way to Amsterdam where it ends in the sea. Anyway the rest of the day we went home and just hung out because we were all pretty tired. I went and played some soccer with Philipp which was fun. The next day Juliane and April went shopping and I tagged along as well and that evening we had to go to the train station to head back to Paris.
When we got to Paris on Monday night we found our hotel which was 1 block away from the Notre Dame Cathedral. The hotel was a little scary and old but the location was great. Tuesday morning we went to Notre Dame to get in line to go to the top of the towers to see the gargoyles and the bells. We then went over to the Louvre but to our disappointment is closed on Tuesdays. It was a bummer. We then proceeded to the Orsay Museum which is a really cool museum. It is a large art museum in an old, gorgeous train station. It houses a lot of Van Gogh, Renoir, and Manet. Van Gogh was by far my favorite because he uses so much paint that it gives the painting almost a third dimension. After the museum we set out to see the catacombs which was even more of a disappointment. We took the subway there and got off at the right stop but the directions were terrible to find the entrance and ended up walking around for 40 minutes. By the time we found it was passed the time of the last tour. It was quite upsetting. After that we went to the Eiffel tower again to get some more pictures and also some good night shots. It was really cool to see the tower at night. We again were exhausted by the time we got back to our room that night. And the next morning we were off to the airport to board our 10.5 hour non-stop flight. Neither of us really slept on the flight but watched about 5 movies a piece.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
we stayed in bern on the night of the 12th. we got up in the morning and explored the downtown old city of Bern, which is pretty cool actually. very interesting old buildings and this church with this spire that is near 328 feet high. we climbed a stone spiral staircase to get almost to the top. it was very tiring but totally worth it. Bern is also famous for having bears. they have a bear pit right in the old city. they have this fenced in area by the river bank. we went and saw them and it was awesome. there are two little cubs now too. not sure if this is where the bernstein bear name came from but somebody should look it up.
so after exploring bern we spent about 30 minutes wandering lost trying to find the parking garage where our car was. we found it and left for Interlaken. quite the neat little city nestled between two gigantic lakes at the base of the Bernese Oberland Alps. we found our hostel which we have our own room and the beds are comfortable. its great. we then drove up to this little tiny town called Lauterbrunned up this very narrow valley. there are probably 10 visible waterfalls all about 300-350 METERs high (1000 feet+). way cool. we were lunging for our cameras. lots of cows as well. the cows here are much healthier than the ones you see in the US. here all the cows are really fat and well fed. probably because the grazing is great. great fields everywhere that never turn brown.
after lauterbrunned we went up another canyon/valley to a little bit larger town called Grindelwald. also very cool.
today, may 14th, we both got up a little late. been rainy all day. we went to these caves that go way back into the mountain. lots of stalagmite and stalactite formations inside. very intersting. we also went up to lauterbrunned again to go to this other waterfall that cuts its path through the rocks of the mountain. you take a cable car up and walking through these tunnels in and out of the mountain following this waterfall that has about 11 different sections. again, lots of steps to climb up and down. that was fun. then we had to be back to our place by 4 because we had a reservation to do a canyon jump. its like bungee jumping but instead of being attached to a bungee you are attached to a rope that is tied to a cable about 50 yards away from you. you are harnessed in and jump off a platform for an 80 meter freefall before you get yanked and then swing for a while before coming to a stop. there are youtube videos of it. just look up grindelwald or interlaken canyon jump. here is one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4fqyN1vm50&feature=related
anyway, i took videos too and pictures but i cant plug my memory card into this computer.
so that was our day today. tomorrow we are leaving interlaken for Lucerne. there we are going to explore the city and then on saturday morning we leave for frankfurt to visit the germans for 2.5 days before going back to Paris.
i will post pictures and videos the first chance i get.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
also i meant to write this yesterday, but i need to give britta credit for everything she did between cancelling aprils credit cards for us, booking hotels, helping find train stations and schedules and getting us from point A to point B. she is pretty amazing.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
5/6/10 Depart Los Angeles, CA LAX 3:30PM
5/7/10 Arrive Paris, France 11:00AM
1.5 days in Paris
5/8/10 Depart Paris 8:45PM Arrive Barcelona, Spain 10:20PM
2.5 days in Barcelona
5/11/10 Depart Barcelona 12:00PM Arrive Geneva, Switzerland 1:35PM
Rent car in Geneva and drive and return car in Lucerne, Switzerland 5/14/10
3.5 days driving in Switzerland along the Alps (cities visiting: Bern(maybe), Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Lucerne)
5/15/10 Depart Lucerne 8:54AM Arrive Frankfurt, Germany 1:10PM
Hang out with Juliane and the Germans for 2.5 days.
5/17/10 Depart Frankfurt 7:00PM Arrive Paris 10:50PM
Final day spent in Paris.
5/19/10 Depart Paris 10:35AM Arrive Los Angeles 1:05PM