Back from abroad

17 Jun

View of Interlaken, Switzerland

Clearly, I’ve become a bit lazy with my posting – busy is more like it though. I had this great post about Switzerland and then it would never load properly, which only made writing another post less enticing. I took a break, but now I’m back in Canada so here is lovely update on the last two weeks of my euro-trip.

Making the trek from Venice, Italy to Switzerland was a little rough. One boat ride and 4 trains later – I was finally in Interlaken, a Swiss town known for adventure sports, but because I’m on a tight budget, I’ve stuck to hiking.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

On the first full day, I hiked 2.5 hrs up a mountain in town in order to see panoramic views of the Bernese Alps. The hike was brutal. It was bloody steep and Stefanie, Jessie and I had to carry a backpack full of food, water and jackets. When I had the backpack, I moved like a turtle and everyone said I looked like I was dying a slow death. Jessie yelled at me to hurry up and called me a city girl. I may be a city gal, but I probably get more physical exercise than her since I walk everywhere! She drives. Well, when Jessie got the backpack, she finally realized how brutal it was and apologized. Justice was served!

The view from the top was pristine. You could see the tallest peak in Europe. We enjoyed a high altitude beer, took some photos and decided to take the gondola back down. The next day, I went on a more relaxing hike through an old glacier valley. On one side of the path, there were these amazing, tall waterfalls. I couldn’t even tell you how tall they were. It felt very Jurassic Park. After the hike, I shelled out the cash to take a few gondolas up to the second highest accessible peak in Switzerland – maybe in Europe. It’s called Schilthorn.

Four gondolas later and I was standing on a peak 10,000 feet in the air. A little surreal! I played in the snow for a bit and basked in the beauty and clean air. Fun fact: Schilthorn was a location in one of the old James Bond films. On the way down, we stopped at a small mountain town before taking the last gondola to the valley. The landscape was breathtaking, green acres with cows set against the snow covered alps. Stef and Jess walked a path nearby but I just sat on a bench, listened to my music and enjoyed the serenity. I must admit, I had a moment up there. I thought about all the things that led up to that moment. I don’t want to say I felt lucky or blessed, but more thankful. I knew who to thank and it made me tear up a bit. I can be a sap sometimes.

view from Schilthorn

From Interlaken, we made our way to Munich, Germany. The first night, we ate at a traditional German food restaurant and Stefanie had food poisoning. So for the rest of the stay, she was held hostage in her dorm bed. I felt so bad. Jessie and I decided to do a bike tour of Munich, considering we didn’t have too much time to wonder – just one full day! The bike tour was somewhat chaotic – too many people, but I did manage to see some interesting things. I was also able to eat and have a beer and the world’s second largest beer garden. I think it holds 6,500 people. Munich is a lovely city. It reminds me of Canada, besides the nudist park we bike rode through. Next, it was off to Vienna, Austria!

If I’m remembering correctly, I didn’t do too much in Vienna. I wondered and sat in parks or by fountains most of the time. It was nice to do nothing for once. Six weeks in Europe leaves no room for doddling, but it was the end of the trip and I was feeling exhausted. I did visit the historic Pretar amusement park in Vienna. Stefanie was still feeling queasy, but Jessie and I took a ride on the RIESENRAD, the giant Ferris Wheel. It was first built in 1897. After the war in 1944, it was rebuilt and restored to it’s former glory. Pretar is probably the most bizarre amusement park I’ve ever visited. The rides are rickety and the statues scattered around the park are creepy, but it’s well worth a visit! After two nights in Vienna, we left for Prague.

Giant Ferris Wheel in Vienna

I love Prague! It is a good sized city and has beautiful architecture. I took a day trip an hour east of Prague to Kutna Hora. It’s famous for having a chapel basement decorated in 40,000 human skeletons. The chapel was built over an old grave with Plague victims. The chapel owners didn’t know what to do with all the bones, so they hired a weird monk to organize the bones in the basement. So, he did – by type of bone. When new owners took over, they hired him or some other weirdo to do something creative with the bones. His idea of creativity: building chandeliers, alters, columns and even a family crest out of  human bones. Pretty freaky! It smelled like chalky bodies down there, too. Some of the skulls still had their molars. I’m glad I went and saw it though. Quite a sight!

From Prague, I traveled back to Frankfurt for one night with our first couchsurfing host before catching a flight back to Canada. It was a long day. I think I was up for 20 hours before finally crashing in Windsor, Ontario. I woke up early yesterday and started the long and stressful process of getting all my cards back from when I was pick pocketed in Spain.

view of Prague

I can’t believe my Euro-trip has come to an end. I wish I could keep traveling. Today is my university graduation. One door is closing, but come autumn another one will open. Stefanie and I will be traveling to South America for 3 months. I’m looking forward to writing about my next misadventures. Stay tuned!

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2 Responses to “Back from abroad”

  1. Fatima June 18, 2010 at 2:46 AM #

    Congratulations, Melissa!! I am so proud of you. Wish I could be there with you to celebrate.

  2. Melissa June 19, 2010 at 1:42 AM #

    Wow Melissa!! What an honor! Congratulations!!! I'm so proud of you!

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