Published: October 3rd 2006July 2nd 2006
Welcome to Switzerland!
Our first view of the Swiss Alps from the train...beautiful scenery!
Sorry we are a little behind, been a bit busy, but please continue to tune in and hopefully we will be caught up soon. Each blog is dated, so be sure to look at that so you know what time period we are in!
The Swiss Alps, Swiss Army Knife, Swiss Bank, and Swiss Cheese all in one place! Ok, so we all know that the small country of Switzerland has many things that make it famous, but for those of you who might go there…it is expensive too, but we couldn’t pass it up. We decided that one night in the town of Luzern would be perfect. It is a short distance from Zurich, right in the mountains, and there is a lake with ferries we could ride for free because of our Eurail pass!
We arrived in the early evening with no place to stay, but after a few calls we found a place in no time—we won’t mention the cost. Then we took to the streets and took in some of the sights, the Kapellbrucke or Chapel Bridge was amazing with paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Luzern's history, but after
grabbing some groceries we headed to our hotel to get some rest. Before heading to bed, Heather once again researched the guidebook and set a plan for the next day (makes your day much more manageable with a plan!). She read that the sunrise in Luzern was unlike anywhere in the world, so we decided we would get up at 5am and check out the sunrise since it isn’t everyday that we’re in the Alps!
Well 5am came pretty quick, but we rolled out of bed, threw our clothes on (beanie caps too, it was cold!) and headed to the bridge to wait for the sun to rise. Well, we waited and waited, but no sun was rising…oh yeah, that’s right, we are surrounded by high mountains. So what time was the sun going to rise? Well, we stood there for an hour and the guidebook said the sun was to rise over Mount Pilatus, Luzern’s most famous peak, but it just rose over some smaller mountains and was a bit disappointing…nothing like the Palouse!
A little explanation about our hotel - it was about four stories and located above a restaurant. There was no hotel reception, just
the restaurant, so when they were closed the hotel was closed. The night before we asked about leaving our bags for the day since our train to our next destination was leaving around 4pm, and they said it was no problem, we just needed to put the key in the drop box on the door when we left in the morning. So we got ready, packed all our belongings, left them in the hotel area, and dropped the key in the drop box…all set, or were we?
We continued with our plan for the day, jumped on a ferry around 9am and enjoyed a 1.5 hour ride on the water. The weather wasn’t the most favorable, there was a huge rain storm with lighting and thunder, but if there was one place to experience such a storm, it was here. The lake was in a tight valley with high peaks all around us and when there was thunder you could hear it for a long time echoing off all the mountain walls and when the rain started it was really pouring and the visual effect of the drops hitting the lake was incredible. The rain eventually let up and
The monument is for all the fallen Swiss Guards during the French Revolution
we arrived to Alpnachstad (from there, if you have the time and the money you can take a train and then a gondola up the peak—which is sure to be spectacular). Being short on both, time and money, we jumped a train back to Luzern to take in a few more sights and then head to the train station.
After viewing the sleeping lion carved in the mountain side (pretty neat) and walking along the old city wall, around 3pm we headed to the hotel to get our bags, but ran into a problem. The lunch hours for the restaurant were only until 2pm and didn’t open up for dinner until 6pm, but we thought someone would still be in the kitchen at least…we were wrong. We banged on the doors, we asked neighboring shops if they knew how to contact the owner, and I even climbed on the roof of the porch to try and get into a window. I did see an open window on the second floor and asked Heather if she wanted to give it a go, but she passed .
After 10 minutes of frustration (our train was leaving in about 30 minutes),
I sent Heather to look at the souvenir shops while I hung out to wait for someone. Then I had a flashback to the 80’s and remembered a show called McGyver. I asked myself, “What would McGyver do?” I then thought about the keys we put in the door drop box that morning and what if they were still there…but how would I get them out of such a small opening (similar to a mail slot). I took inventory everything I had on me: 1. Leatherman multi-tool (never travel without it) 2. Mp3 player with headphones 3. Key ring.
No, I wasn’t able to make a small bomb and blow up the door (I am only a McGyver class III), but I did take the key ring and turn it into a hook with the Leatherman and tie it onto the headphones of the Mp3 player and decided to try a little fishing. Just then Heather walked around the corner and started to giggle at me a bit because I was unsuccessful with my first few attempts. I then looked at the headphones and decided the placement of the hook wasn’t at the optimal point, so I made the
Germany's Highest Waterfall
It says it drops 163 meters (roughly 530 feet) but it is more like a series of many waterfalls. So if you are in Triberg for the cuckoo clocks, might as well stop for a peek. Beautiful scenery though!
adjustment and once again tried to fish for the keys and you wouldn’t believe it, but I hook the keys and was able to pull them out!!! It was incredible and we thank you Mr. McGyver. After getting the bags, we ran as fast as our little legs could and barely made it to the train.
Our next stop was going to be Freiburg, Germany for 2 nights so we would visit the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) as well as take a day trip to Strasbourg, France before headed towards Berlin for the World Cup playoffs. In Freiburg, for a couple Euro, you can pick up a listing of Private Rooms from the tourist office. We called a few and found one just a few stops up on the street tram. We got a little lost, but eventually saw this old lady pointing at us and shouting a little bit. We aren’t going to say she was unfriendly, but just old and grumpy. We then were starving for some food and found a bar next to our place. We walked in, a little hesitant, and discovered it was a local biker bar, but once the cook realized I spoke
some German we were best friends. He cooked us up a mean meal and invited us back the next day to watch Germany play Argentina in the World Cup playoffs.
The next day we woke, grabbed a train to a town called Triberg for three reasons—to visit Germany’s highest waterfall, hike in the Black Forest, and find the world’s two largest cuckoo clocks. We were successful with finding the waterfall and taking a beautiful hike in the forest, but when it came to finding the cuckoo clocks we were sent in the wrong directions and learned it would be best to have a car for this hunt. After a little disappointment of not achieving all our objectives, we headed back to Freiburg for the game. We returned to the little biker bar, found only 5 people there (really 6 but one guy was sleeping) and watched the game with a few brews.
Germany won the game (just a playoff game, not the final) and the small city of Freiburg went crazy! After a couple of celebratory drinks (“on the house”!) we left our little bar and headed to the center of town to check out the locals celebrating,
Another Strasbourg Cathedral
Unsure what the name of this church is, but a beautiful sight
it was like nothing we had seen. The tram line was closed down because it couldn’t get through the crowd and everyone was having a blast. We took a ton of pictures and after heading the wrong way for a couple kilometers, finally made our way back to the house. The next day we decided to kill ourselves by trying to see a lot in a little time. We were going to Strasbourg in the morning, Frankfurt at night to watch Brazil play Italy on a jumbo screen, and then take a night train to Berlin.
In Strasbourg we visited the Strasbourg Cathedral which was completed in the 15th century and was the tallest building in the world at that time, but it is most famous for the astronomical clock inside, but we also found a little surprise. For the Tour de France this year, the starting line was in Strasbourg and when we were there it was the time trials. So we didn’t get to see the start of the race, but we were able to view each individual rider race and thought it was probably cooler then just watching a mass of riders pass by once in
a blink. After all day’s excitement we head to Frankfurt for some more.
For the World Cup, Frankfurt built a double sided jumbo screen and placed it in the middle of the river that runs through the city. We decided this was where we were destined to go, but once there found some problems. The area was designed to hold 500,000 people, but nearly 1.5 million showed up so they quit letting people in the area and we were subjected to sitting on a bridge too far away to see the game. So at half time we went to the city center where we met up with our friend Casper and watch the end of the very sad game, Brazil lost and were out of competition. After a beer, we headed back to the train station and off to Berlin where Daniel was nice enough to pick us up at 6am, but of course we all went back to sleep once back at his home.
We had been doing a ton of traveling and were happy to be in Berlin for 8 days of relaxing and local sight seeing as well as watching the finals of the World
A quick stop in Frankfurt--Go Brazil!
Unfortunately there were too many people for us to watch the game on the water, but Casper was here earlier and the sun turned him into a Lobster! Remember kids, sunblock is your friend!
Cup. So look forward to our next blog where we tell you about the strict rules we have had to live under while with Daniel, give you the results of the World Cup from a locals point of view, as well show you some of the amazing architecture in Berlin.
Love Ben and Heather
There are more photos below