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23 February 2008

A Stop in Lucerne

It was my fourth day in Switzerland and time to say auf Wiedersehen to Interlaken. My next destination was Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland.

To get to Zürich, there are two options: Going through Bern, or going through Lucerne (or, auf Deutsch, Luzern). Since I had already taken the route going through Bern, it was an easy choice that I would now stop in Lucerne.

So, for one last time, I trekked from my hostel across town to the east train station. And guess who I saw - Alex, the Taiwanese guy from my hostel. He was on his way to Zürich too, and we got on the same train. The only thing was that he had a first-class ticket, and I was merely a member of the second class. It is still difficult for me, as an American, to fully accept Europe's still-established class system. :(

The train left soon, taking us along the shores of Lake Brienz and through forested mountains.

Atop the Schilthorn: James Bond in the Alps

Gondola lifts, a revolving restaurant, Bond memorabilia, and a disappointing small town.

After my unexpectedly intense ski day, I needed a calmer day to recover. But I wasn't going to stay in bed at the hostel all day, and I still had the second day of my 2-day train/ski-lift pass to use. So naturally, I returned to the mountains!

This day, I had a mantra: "Take it easy." The Eagles song provided a soundtrack to my day, as I traveled up and down gondolas and vowed to not let the sight of all those skiers drive me crazy.

Back from Switzerland

I flew back from Friedrichshafen late Thursday night. I had an incredible time in Switzerland, more fun than I have had in a long time (and that's saying a lot considering all the places I've been traveling).

Some highlights:

  • Skiing in the Alps--the Jungfrau! What a thrill! It was more thrilling for me, a very inexperienced skier, because even the curves of the "beginner" course knocked me off my skis several times! I have the bruises to show for it, but long after they're healed, I'll remember that experience.
  • My hostel in Interlaken, very cozy; I felt at home there, and I made around 10 friends there!
  • Spending time with my hostel-mates, who were all really intense skiers/snowboarders, was really fun! I'm now inspired to tackle more activities: Snowboarding, paragliding, mountain climbing, surfing, river rafting, skydiving! We'll see what I can get done.
  • The Swiss people. They're very nice, helpful, fun-loving, and laid-back. It's a great combination of German, French, and (a tiny bit of) Italian cultures.
  • Swiss trains! They're so clean, efficient. Everywhere I traveled on the trains (I was averaging 4 train rides a day), the views were spectacular. I was (metaphorically) suffocating from all the breathtaking views.
  • The downside: the cost. It was expensive, everywhere. But I'm used to it now, coming from London. It was hard to monitor how much I spent in Swiss Francs instead of euros, pounds, or dollars.
  • All the cities: Bern, Zurich, Luzern, Interlaken, Vaduz (in Liechtenstein!), Friedrichshafen and Ravensburg. I liked them all. So clean, efficient, yet relaxed at the same time. And gorgeous scenery everywhere.
I don't have much time now. The next phase of my European adventure continues: My mom and cousin are arriving in London today (in a few hours). So I'll be busy, busy, busy showing them around London, then going to Bath on Tuesday, and going to Paris Wednesday to Saturday. Whew!

PS. I have a paper to write, but it's pretty straightforward. OK, better get to it!

Cheers out!