Sunday, August 8, 2010

final update

So, to follow up on the rest of our trip...

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


sorry it has taken so long. internet is hard to find here and is expensive. ok so here is the update...

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
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


ok so we thought our troubles with barcelona and the ash cloud were over but definitely not. we got to the airport around 10:30 for our 12 oclock flight and then our plane was delayed for 2.5 hours. then we boarded the plane and sat there for an hour waiting to get clearance to take off because of the ash cloud over the area. not exciting. after an hour waiting on the plane we got clearance. so now we are in switzerland. it is absolutely gorgeous. i want to take pictures non stop. so we left the airport in geneva to head for Bern. we drove along this huge lake for a while with the gorgeous alps jutting up from the other side. we then went to this little town gruyeres where they are famous for their cheese. we went into this little tiny shop and got some brie and some other cheese i had no idea what it was. the guy spoke no english and i didnt speak any french. we got some cheese, bread, and a carton of orange juice and ate it while we looked at this small castle with an amazing backdrop. then we were on our way to bern again. after driving around the city looking for this guy we were to meet up with from , we finally called and met up with him. hes very atheist but a great guy. very kind. has been all over the world. so tomorrow we are going to see a little bit of the old city of bern which is pretty cool. then off to interlaken, the extreme sport capital of the world (along with new zealand). maybe do bunjee jumping or skydiving or something to scare mom. but we are being very safe and having fun. i will post pictures as soon as i can.

Monday, May 10, 2010

credit where credit is due..

we spent all morning at the consulate getting aprils passport which went well. it actually didnt take too long.

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

First Entry...

First off i want to apologize for taking so long to publish my first post. We are both still alive and well, minus April´s passport, debit card, and drivers license, but we´ll get to that later. Our flight left LA at 3:30pm on Thursday and was nonstop to Paris. So, we landed on Friday at noon in Paris after very little sleep on both our parts because of the individual tv´s at each seat with the 100+ movie library to choose from. We almost felt like we had to watch movies just to get our moneys worth and to watch movies that we would never watch otherwise. After getting our bags and through customs, it took us a little bit to figure out how the metro/train system works in Paris. But we figured it out and were on our way. We found our cute little cheap hotel pretty easy. It was about 1000 meters from the Eiffel tower so that was fun. So, still barely walking from the lack of sleep, we stumble into the hotel, drop our stuff off and get on our way immediately. No time to waste. We took a stroll over to the Eiffel tower. Walking through the narrow streets through the typical parisian architecture was far more intriguing than i imagined it would be. The Eiffel tower was pretty cool. the line was too long so we didnt want to go up it. I felt like i was in the Paris hotel in Vegas almost. So we then walk down the river to the Museum d´Orsay which is in an old train station. unfortunately we arrive there at 5:02 and they close the doors at 5:00 so that was upsetting. so we hang outside the for a little bit and then continue our stroll, which by now had become at least 2 miles, and head through the Tulieries gardens and up the main street to l´arche de triomphe. So here we are walking on barely any sleep and walking several miles. it was quite exhausting. Needless to say that night was much needed sleep. The next morning we sleep in and then then catch a train to the Chateau Versailles which was immense and amazing. way over the top and extravagant. great to see. after that we head over to a few old churchs and on to Catedral Notre Dame which was pretty awesome. We then continued walking through downtown Paris and around the Latin Quarter. We had to cut our stroll short and head back to the hotel to get our stuff and head to the airport to Barcelona. We then find out that there is an Ash cloud covering barcelona and the close the airport and cancel all flights to Barcelona. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:45pm. they told us we could go the next morning but what if the cloud was there the next day? so we ended up switching our flight to go to Valencia, Spain which is about 300 kilometers south of Barcelona. Our original intent was to get to Valencia and take a train or bus to Barcelona but then our flight didnt arrive until after midnight. So here comes another sleepless night... So we wait in a car rental line for over an hour to find out there are no cars to rend and even if there were cars they were 280 euros per day (roughly 350-400 dollars). So we figure we will just find a cozy place in the airport and sleep until morning and get a train or bus then. We found a nice bench and April goes to sleep while I go and try to find internet and to make some phone calls. I figure out that we should just head to the train station in downtown Valencia because the first train leaves at 5:00am. So i wake poor April up and we grab our stuff and she is missing her purse which has her passport, drivers license, cash, debit card, student ID and everything else. Apparently she thought it would be safe if she just layed it under her bench near her other stuff. not the case. somebody must have been by to snatch it. so now we have a whole new problem. we talk to the police to get the Embassy or Consulate information to get a new passport. which one of the main places is in Barcelona. so we decide to continue to the city to get the train for barcelona which ended up leaving around 8:45am. we both sleep as much as we can on the 3 hour train ride. then we get to barcelona, find our hostel, drop our stuff off and are off again to see the city. Definitely a different feel than Paris. Paris was much cleaner i thought and much classier people. It felt like I was watching ¨Devil Wears Prada¨ Everyone was extremely fashionable and classy in paris whereas that is not the case in Barcelona. Barcelona still has a pretty cool feel though. very narrow streets with tall buildings (taller than those in Paris I felt). not as clean though. we then head off just around the corner from our hostel to start our tour and realize that the Cathedral of Barclona is less than 200 yards away. really cool building. even cooler though was how we get there and there is a band on the steps of the cathedral and there are several groups of people in a cirle doing what looks like a greek dance. apparently this happens every Sunday starting around noon. It is called the Sardana dance. it was pretty exciting. after that we continue on to the Picasso museum which was awesome. it was so much cooler than i ever imagined it would be. me and april were both very happy with it. it was a good experience. then we grab a taxi and head to Sagrada familia cathedral which is GIGANTIC. its this huge cathedral that has been under construction since 1868. the architect is Gaudi. its amazing. we then went to a Park designed by the same architect. the park was so intriquite and detailed with mosaic benches and just spectacular in general. after which we come back and get some stuff from the room and then get some food from McDonalds. I had just been ripped off by a cab driver for about 15 bucks which i was not happy about. it make me realize i love Spain but i dont like Spaniards. they are snooty, aloof, ghetto, not nice, thieving, and swindling. Everyone talks about how the French(especially in Paris) are terrible. but all the french people we came in contact with were great. the spaniards are the problem. anyway, i was feeling very sick of spaniards and wanted something as american as possible, and what is more american than a big mac meal? nothing!! this big mac meal rivaled the one big mac meal i had in Peru. both, amazing. After dinner we head up to the fountains in front of the palace downtown which puts the bellagio fountains to shame in many ways. tons of water, tons of colors and awesome music. the fountains were so fun. definitely the most "fun" thing so far. it put us both in much better moods after the few pitfalls. then we came home and thats where we are now. i need to go to bed. sorry this post is so long. so just wanted to let everyone know that we are alive and well.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time is drawing near...

I still have yet to pack and I leave in less than 24 hours. I'm starting to stress out a little bit because I don't want to forget anything.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tentative Itinerary

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

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Going with the times...

As I see everyone else starting their own blogs, I feel left out. I guess I always figured I would start a blog once I got married, but seeing how I am 28 and do not have a spouse, now is as good a time as any.
Actually, the real reason is that I am going on a trip to Europe with my little sister April (together we are the A-team) and I wanted to have a way to document everything and also so people could follow along with our travels.