Made it back home safely after a 10.5 hour flight. Had enough time to vote at the polls and then crash. Super jet lagged. I've been sleeping a lot these past couple days. I have over 10,000 photos to go through and I'm learning Lightroom 2 at the same time. Onto the fun part of the post. My last real post left off at the beginning of my trip in Switzerland. By far that has been my favorite country.
I stayed in Luzern for two nights. Monday morning I walked to Lake Luzern and people watched. Then I walked across the famous Kapellbruecke or Chapel Bridge (burnt down in 1993) and roamed around the town. I have to say my favorite memories are always free. I love purposely getting lost in small shopping alleyways and just having a good time. I happened to find a bead store while I was walking around!!!
I seemed to have misplaced my flip flops so I went in search to replace them. Flip flops aren't big in Switzerland. I shouldn't be surprised... Went to the Gletschergarten which was totally cool. It was a big glacier garden that had the history of it and some other neat things. I couldn't stop thinking about how much my mom would have loved it and that it reminded me a lot of Yosemite and how it was created in the same way. Had the crappiest stay in a budget hotel. My neighbors had a party in the hall until 3:30am and then started doing dishes around 6am.
I left Luzern for a tiny town called Muerren. It's near Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen for anyone who knows where that is. I took a train and there was something wrong with the tracks so I had to catch a bus to go over the pass. It was the most beautiful drive of my life. I kept wanting to take pictures but the reflections off of the windows made it hard. From there I took another train and then a cable car (they call them funiculars) up to Muerren. I have discovered that I have a fear of heights, so I was really excited and scared at the same time. Made it up to the top safely and shot a video during the ride. Took yet another train and made it to my beautiful hotel, the Alpin Palace. I got a sweet deal since it was in between seasons. People go hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
I heard a lot of cow bells when I arrived. I've never heard them so I thought they were church bells at first. Then I saw the bells on the cows and they are huge! Took a nice long walk through the tiny town and did a bit of grocery shopping. Nutella is my biggest addiction since I have been in Europe and I am so glad I can find it back in the states. Lunch is my main meal to dine out. The lunch menu is cheaper and you don't feel lonely when traveling on your own.
I decided it would be nice to go to the hotel's hot tub and unwind a bit. I always bring a towel with me to the pool and always find out that they already have them there. So I didn't bother. And then I couldn't find any towels once I got there. I asked some nice people in the hot tub if they had seen any and they said no. They told me that there were these large red, body blow dryers that the Swiss use after showering. That was an experience. I think it took me about a half hour! I will always bring a towel from now on, especially when its in such a cold location.
In the morning, I went to the Tourist Information across the street to find out what they suggest I do with my day. I hiked down the mountain 2.6 km to the sweet town of Gimmelwald. Met some nice people along the way and saw plenty more cows. Took the funicular down to Stechelberg and then walked what felt like forever, to Trummelbach Falls. Ten waterfalls inside the mountains of Europe: insanely loud, wet, dark, and slippery, but totally worth it. Had the most incredible views when I stood outside of them. The scary part was taking the mountain lift up to the top. Continued walking all the way back to Lauterbrunnen (6km) to enjoy a hot bowl of soup with another gorgeous view. I was exhausted from my hike that started at 11am and ended at 4pm! Made friends with the Swiss rail ticket people and spent over an hour trying to work out how I could ride a train from Switzerland to the UK in a day. Picked flying.
Jenna wanted to go to Ireland so we picked Dublin. Not knowing it was one of the most expensive places to go in all of Europe. Flew out of Geneva airport and arrived a few hours before Jenna. Checked into our hotel, the Regency Hotel, and found I had one of the oldest rooms in a building! The pretty photos of renovated rooms cost $45 more per night. Saved money in the old room. I was so excited to see Jenna at the airport. I had been so tired on the ride to the hotel the first time that I hadn't noticed that they were driving on the left side of the road! I couldn't stop talking to Jenna and asking her a billion questions. Its weird going an entire month without seeing family!
Dublin was colder than Switzerland. It rained a bit and we saw a lot of things that you expect to see in a big city. Lots of street performers, gypsies, and men dressed in Native American garb and playing music. HUH? Something we are used to in SF and neighboring areas but we thought it odd considering they were in downtown Dublin. Took a hop on/off bus tour around the city. Those things rock when everything is so spread out. Took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol. Lots of potato famine history there. I urge you to click that link! People purposely committed crimes to get into jail so they could be guaranteed a meal. Smart thinking. Ran to see the Book of Kells in Trinity College. It is a really cool book that is written in Latin around 800 AD. I planned it so we arrived 15 minutes before last admission so we got in for free! Everything else closed around the same time. Jenna & I walked around Temple Bar for a while in the little shops and then settled on the Vat Bar for dinner.
Woke up really early and took the bus to O'Connell Street. We grabbed some breakfast and then arrived over 20 minutes early at the Tourist Information. We took a tour bus to Newgrange to see the 5000 year old passageway tombs. It was really cool that we got to go inside and see the megalithic art. Then we went to Monasterboice where we stood in the rain for 30 minutes and listened to the most detailed description of celtic crosses and the stories they tell. The driver was really cool and told us Irish fables for over an hour on the drive back to Dublin. Very fun times! Grabbed dinner in O'Neill's- corned beef and potatoes naturally.
Our last day in Dublin, we went to the Guinness Storehouse Factory. I have to admit that I was slightly dissappointed since it felt like a theme park with a lot of props and video footage. It was a self-guided "tour" through 7 floors of Guinness. Cool for someone not expecting an actual factory. I did really enjoy the panoramic views out from the gravity bar at the top. Jenna and I caught a bus back to the Dublin airport and I said good bye to her. She flew back to London and I took the train from Dublin to Killarney. Arrived at my hostel very late at night. To be continued...