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22 February 2008

Planning My Next Getaway

My "reading week" fell in the middle of February. This means that for one week, there are no classes at the university. It's meant to give students a chance to "catch up" with their studying. Of course, I took it as an opportunity for a one-week trip.

My destination?

Switzerland! I had been wanting to travel to this land of cheese, clocks, chocolate, and banks for a while. Since it would be mid-February, I was expecting a snow-covered visit. The Alps were beckoning!

Originally, I had planned to start in Germany, flying RyanAir into Friedrichshafen (in Baden-Württemberg, southern Germany), visiting the nearby Lake Constance area (where I have relatives) for a couple days. Then I was to move westward through the country for several days, through Zürich, Lucerne, through the Alps and finishing in Geneva.

Well, plans change. And and one thing that I learned from this trip is that you never know exactly what you'll be doing until even the night before! My friend studying in Ireland wanted to join me on this trip, but she only had time to travel on the weekend. So I adjusted my schedule: I'd depart Friday morning and head straight for the Alps (specifically Interlaken) and from there, work my way back to Germany. The prices of flights had risen, but it was cheapest for me to fly in and out of Friedrichshafen. So, I booked the flights. Then I started planning what I'd do in and around Interlaken. The majority of my research consisted of me reading Rick Steves's book Best of Europe 2008, which has an entire section devoted to the area. The book was filled with great and exciting sounding suggestions - and the area looked absolutely gorgeous and full of things to do, especially in the nearby Alps!

Meanwhile, my friend hadn't booked her flight, because she had to adjust a class schedule, and she didn't find out until a few days before the trip. And by that time, the flights, especially from Ireland, had become much more expensive (many schools have mid-winter break at this time, and a ski trip to the Alps is an obvious destination). On top of this, the travel budget for Switzerland was to be higher than normal, because Switzerland is just a really expensive place (they use the Swiss franc, not the Euro). So the costs were too high, and my friend couldn't come. And I found out the day before I was about to leave.

The week-long adventure had suddenly become a solo odyssey.

I was a little disappointed, slightly anxious, concerned that the hostel would still charge me for two beds, but overall still excited about where I was going!

What else can I do but just see what happens, I thought. and so I did.

What followed was one of the most memorable trips I've made so far...

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