Saved: December 4th 2008May 18th 2008
I left for Germany from Lenzburg train station around 3pm. The train system is very efficient in Switzerland and I was very impressed with the organization. For the most part, it is run by the honor code. No one really checks your ticket; on the faster trains, there are random spot checks and if you do not have a ticket, you have to pay a hefty fine. I was a little nervous because I thought I boarded the wrong train, but I made it to Aarau in time..and then got lost in the neighborhood outside the train station. I met up with the mom and the children (after calling them on the cell) and we made our way to Singen, Germany. We went in and out of Germany about 3 times before we were finally there because of the irregular borders. During this time, I sat next to very very hyper children. I decided I do not like feet; I do not like when they are put on me, it is gross and dirty. I have been finding out a lot of pet peeves of mine that I never knew about. This just drives me crazy. The little girl ALWAYS puts
her feet on me...at dinner, in the car, when we are playing...adsfklja;skldfj.
okay. whew. I feel better. I had a nanny moment and taught them the song "hi my name is joe..and i work in a button factory..one day my boss said to me..." Andd we did that for about an hour and they were out. Hey, its an exhausting song, but i never want to hear it again. Anyways, Germany is....a lot like Switzerland (suprise!). I was a little taken aback by the lack of security between the boarders as well; there was none. All of a sudden we were back in Switzerland again. It was a huge change when compared with the US/Canadian boarders. I never once had to show my passport. Anyways, the entire way there we listened to Cher, Elvis, and the Beach Boys on the radio. I was hoping to hear some authentic German music, but no, it was all English. Some of the songs I had never even heard before!
We had dinner at a little bed and breakfast that we stayed at for the night. I had my own room! I loved it. I was able to go out on the balcony
and people watch. In the morning, I watched the mist coming off the mountains. After my dinner of mushroom ravioli, we went to Stein am Rhein in Switzerland. Apparently it is a very famous city, but I am not exactly the most knowledgeable person when it comes to that. It was gorgeous! It was built because the Rhine was the major transportation route between Zurich and Germany back in the day and this was a major stop before Lake Constance in Germany. You would think that I would get tired of the whole alpine themed architecture (coming from Gaylord, MI) but it is still beautiful none the less and I still cannot get over how these buildings are over 600 years old! I walked around the old town, had ice cream (of course) and then watched the sunset. The Rhine originally begins in the Alps of southern Switzerland - which I will be visiting in about 2 weeks. I never thought that I would ever get to see this river; I am so happy :)
I spent the remainder of the evening meeting new people and sampling different brews. I then went back to my room and watched the
Spanish version of American Idol, CNN, and BBC. They were covering Bush's visit to the Middle East. It was amazing the different view points the rest of the world has on this event. He is simply there to acquire new oil, they say. But then they talk about how China and India need it as well..ect. ect. It was very interesting for me at the time ;) The next morning I was awoken by the sound of very very loud bells from the church basically outside my window. Churches here ring at every quarter after, half past, and quarter to and then at every hour. I have learned to disregard the noise back in Staufen, but this was basically uncalled for. Breakfast at the bed and breakfast was very nice. I miss my big American breakfast of scrambled eggs and French toast. Here, it is always bread and jam. Today there was more variety to the bread and jam. Breakfast is my favorite meal so it made my day.
I walked around Singen for awhile. There are about 7 ancient volcanoes around it, and a few fortresses as well. I had dinner at one of them; don't ask me
what I got..I just ate the meat and pretended it was chicken. I think it might have been lamb? yeahhh. Anyways, I went to Lake Constance for awhile and shopped at Largo mall. I did not buy anything because I did not see anything that I could not buy back home and I didn't want to convert my franks to Euros. It started to rain so I went to the aquarium. I don't recommend it. I may be a little spoiled having gone to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and many others - but the only main attraction were some small reef sharks (that I have swam with in the Florida keys this past December) but to a landlocked Swiss family, this was an amazing sight. I tried to be interested. After, the little girl wanted to go swimming. Every major community has a swimming pool. It is not like a swimming club in the states, it is much different. At first I was not keen on spending my time in Germany swimming in a pool, but this was AMAZING. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Lake Constance. The Bodensee therme
had just opened last July. It was
more of a hot springs bath than a swimming pool. The architecture was futuristic and the water was about 80 degree F in the regular pool. There was a connecting pool from the inside to the outside. It was also heated and even warmer. The pool was right at the beach of Lake Constance and you could go to the edge of the pool and look down at the lake splashing against the building. At one part there were lounge chairs - but in the water that you could lay on and get a massage from the jets. There were no children until 8 allowed in the pool so the children spent their time at the kiddy pool instead. It was wonderful. I did not take any pictures, but I wish I would have now! After, we went to dinner at the castle.
Sunday morning it was just me and children. The parents are very active with politics and had a meeting. In Switzerland, it is a direct democracy. This means that every citizen has a vote on every single issue or law that a person proposes - unlike the US with Congress. Morning went by smoothly. The little
boy is just starting to talk and it is mainly German because that is what he has been around. Now, he is starting to speak English. It is a very proud moment for me :) He is so cute when he says "Risten! risten!" Anyways, I taught him the phrase "how u doin'" Joey Tribianni Style (from friends) and high five! on the side! down-low..too slow! Yeah. We rocked out to lamb chops cassette tapes and we worked in the little girl's summer vacation workbook, made a paper lady bug and an owl out of a brown paper bag (yeah, that’s right..im creative). When the parents got back, we had a very nice lunch and then took a bike ride to Wildegg Castle - about 9 km away from Staufen. The weather was crummy and it started to rain when we arrived. The castle was built in the 1200s and has been home to 11 generations of one family. In the early 19th century, the last of the name died and left the castle to the country and it became part of the national Swiss museum. It reminded me of the castles I visited in the Loire Valley in France
- only much older. Everything was where it belonged from the little glass baby bottles to the 14th century marriage certificate. I was allowed to take flash photography so I went crazy of course. The children behaved very well and I learned a lot. It turns out the castle is haunted. I LOVE any ghost story so this was very exciting for me. We visited the dungeon, where some very bad things happened, and it was very eerie. I took lots of pictures trying to capture an orb on film. Unfortunately, I did not, but a quick Google search found someone who did
. I then proceed to eat more amazing Swiss ice cream (called Mövenpick
) - it is not sold anywhere in North America soo this is a very very good thing. but this means that I will have to eat as much as I can now.. :)
The rest of the week is looking very good. I am going for coffee tomorrow with a girl I met in Lenzburg and then Thursday I am going to Zurich to meet up with the guy that I met on the plane for the day/evening. Saturday I
am touring a facility for paraplegics near Luzerne with the mom and then going to a BBQ in Aarau with Marc and some of his buddies and spending the night on the sandbanks of the Arre River - we are having a bon-fire. I feel like I am leaving something out - but I guess I will just add it in later when I think of it? Okay - goodnight!
There are more photos below