Sunday, July 3, 2011

eating chocolate and climbing mountains in switzerland!

thursday, 16 june 2011

my travel to switzerland took about 6 hours. i had to change trains 3 times (once with only 6 minutes!) but it all went splendidly. i pulled up to st. gallen feeling very adventurous and excited. something about the crisp blue lake and the hint of alps stirred my emotions. one of the best parts about this leg of my journey was the fact that my friend sean from high school would be joining me! he has been studying in italy this semester, and we'd been hoping to find a way to meet up over here in europe! so, switzerland it was. i'd given him (rather vague) travel plans, but he was there waiting for me at the station when i arrived! i love when things work out. :) it was so great to see a familiar face after a few weeks of only meeting new people! once i arrived, he showed me where to find an ATM, where i made a withdrawal and got some monopoly money.. i mean, swiss francs. due to their eternal neutrality, i suppose, the swiss don't  use the euro. they still rock the franc! it was so cool to see the brightly coloured bills and huge 5 franc coins.. and very bizarre to hold a coin that was worth more than 7 dollars! we waited a few minutes for our CS host, marilyn, who was meeting us at the station after work. she showed up on her bike and helped us find the right bus to take before biking her way up the giant hill to her flat! we tried to buy tickets on the bus, but the machine was only in german, and we never did figure it out.. whoops. it was only three stops, though.. marilyn met us at the top of the hill at her place. after 4 flights of stairs (my CS hosts are ALWAYS on the top floor!), we were finally home! the place was lovely and spacious with a great view of the city. after sitting and talking for a while, sean an di went out for a wander. we walked for about 30 minutes along the mountain side and then came home, verrry hungry and tired. a friend of marilyn's named florianne came over for dinner. we ate chicken, salad, and potatoes, with an awesome strawberry, meringue, ice cream, and whipped cream dessert combo - DELISH. we decided to go out for drinks, so we walked down to the centre, ending up at a bar called 'rock story'. i tried the 'standard' st. gallen beer, which was alright.. i miss bulmer's though! the walk back was drizzley but nice. once we got home, sean and i watched videos online until really late, playing the youtube game. we also researched the amtrak train system in the states, which is preeeetty horrendous. unless you want to spend 100 hours on a train from vancouver to miami! :)

friday, 17 june 2011

friday was our touring day in st. gallen. marilyn and her flatmate nadja left early to go to work, so sean and i didn't get up until around 9h or so. we made an awesome breakfast, using the peanut butter i'd gotten at the commissary in germany and honey to make one of my favourites.. peanut butter and honey toast. YES. such a great treat! i took a quick shower and got dressed, and even got a blog post up before we left! so productive. around 11h, we headed down the mountain and mad our way to the tourism centre to get a map and directions to the post office. turns out, the directions were short, because the post office was next door. we walked over and i bought some stamps for my collection.. even though i speak little to no german, and the woman spoke no english! hooray for hand gestures. we headed from there to the downtown area, which is SO cute. all of the buildings along the little shopping streets were adorable and so very swiss looking! i actually had the feeling of being in disneyland for a while.. it just seemed so charming. we wandered around a little before stopping at the stiftsbibliothek - which was the reason i decided to go to st. gallen in the first place. it's a GORGEOUS medieval library, in the top 100 most awesome libraries in the world. so i was pretty excited. we found our way to the ticket desk, bought our tickets, slipped on some felt slippers, and went inside. the baroque architecture was crazy.. it was so ornate and beautiful. i got reprimanded for taking pictures, but truly, i couldn't help myself! we had to wear the slippers so that people's shoes didn't make noise or scratch the floors. after the library, we visited the lapidarium, where all the old bits of stone from bygone eras of the abbey's facade were housed. we watched a 17 minute video about the history of the complex, all in german, which was funny. after the lapidarium, we visited the cathedral, which was SUPER frilly and fancy. sean, in typical form, made a corny joke - 'i wonder if they were totally 'baroque' after finishing this place..', which made me laugh. :) i bought a small slab of swiss chocolate and we continued on our way. the weather was so fantastic - we found a (rather dangerous) playground and bought some sandwich stuff for a picnic. our last feat was to climb a giant hill mountain thing after lunch. sean ran up the seemingly endless staircase, while i took the more roundabout gently sloping path. once we finally made it to the top, the view was amazing. there was also an excellent lake at the top of the mountain where people were swimming and sunbathing. we walked around for a while and then headed back to meet marilyn at the flat after work. i took a short nap and then read for a bit while she went to the train station to pick up the other couchsurfer who was arriving that evening - ernest from poland. the four of us went out to dinner, escaping the rain at a tex-mex kind of place. i had a salad, but it was pretty much swimming in dressing. meh. we left dinner and went to go meet marilyn's lovely mom! she came to town to come with us to marilyn's brother's concert that night. he is in a swiss-german hip-hop group called 90-44. it was interesting, but we actually had a really fun time! they're my favourite swiss-german rappers for sure. ;) even though the place was technically a nightclub, it was positively swarming with high school aged kids.. none of them even had the 'i can drink because i'm at least 18 years old' wristband. that got pretty annoying, so we headed home after her brother's set was over. we talked together until after 01h, but by then everyone was so tired that we all just fell asleep. 

saturday, 18 june 2011

we all woke up at varying times, finally getting ready to go by around 11h30. it was raining, so we took the bus to the train station. since we were leaving for luzern straight after lunch, i had my bags with me.. which made the bus ride very welcomed. ernest got some info from the tourist centre and then said goodbye to go do his touring. marilyn took me and sean to her favourite bakery for brunch. i ate my bread as i wrote postcards! we got back to the station after brunch about 20 minutes too late to catch our originally planned train, so we walked for the 14h train. marilyn said goodbye and we headed to our platform. the train ride itself was gorgeous - about 2 hours long, through the alps! we arrived in luzern around 16h30. our CS host evi met us at the station and we walked back to her flat, about 15 minutes away. luzern is actually a really touristy city, which i didn't know before planning to visit. it's really beautiful though, situated on a huge lake and surrounded by big mountains. evi's apartment was wonderful, with a huge living room were sean and i each had a couch! her roommate celine was super cool as well. the four of us sat and talked for a while and then evi suggested we start making dinner. we made potatoes gratin and salad and an awesome carrot soup! the soup was definitely my favourite.. for some reason, it just made me think of my grandmother, and i loved it! after dinner, we all played a never-ending boardgame until celine fiiiinally won. bedtime came earlyish, around midnight. i was just nearly asleep when drew texted me, saying he had a free hour and asking if i had time to talk. so, i called and we got to talk for about 45 minutes. it was so nice to hear his voice after nearly two weeks! it just made me more excited to see him in august. i finally got to sleep around 01h.

sunday, 19 june 2011

father's day in the states! sunday was a big walking day for us. we got up around 9h30 and drank coffee and tea with evi and celine. sean and i left to go explore around 11h. we walked to the old city and just meandered our way around for a few hours. i ate an apfelberliner along the way and it was awesome. we saw the monument to fallen swiss soldiers, which was a huge sad lion, carved into a cliff face. mark twain said once that it was the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world. we also saw a beautiful old church, and about 40 swans at the lake! my favourite was the lion though... it was so beautifully emotive. we picked up some break at a bakery on the way home and went back to eat lunch. after a short rest, our next adventure was to climb a mountain! literally, we went on a big hike to the top of the mountain behind the apartment building. it was called sonnenberg - sun mountain. the math was actually a little challenging, so by the time we finally got to the top, i was beat tired. the views were so worth it though! the alps are so incredible. we went back to the flat the long way - and by that, i mean we got sort of lost in the web of paths on the mountain and ended up not where we intended. but it worked out just fine, because sean and i are expert homing pigeons. :) we ate spaghetti and salad at home with evi and celine. i took a longish shower, only to find out that we were going out to meet evi's friend pietr that night. drat. so i got dressed again and we went out to sit by the lake. pietr was nice, but a little overwhelming. and i don't think he's too fond of americans. i did get my gelato that i'd been craving, though, so that was a win. we left the lake around midnight, but pietr came back to the flat so they all hung out until around 02h, when i finally got to go to sleep!

monday, 20 june 2011

sean and i slept though the earlier train at 9h, opting for the 11h instead. after packing up and saying goodbye to the girls, we headed to the station. i bought my ticket and then went to get snacks at the grocery store while sean made his reservation with his eurail pass. we boarded the train and my swiss adventure drew to a close.. next stop, italia!!

No comments:

Post a Comment