I’m beginning to think I”m not supposed to blog 🙂 When I tried logging in to my computer, my keys were typing whacko letters, not corresponding with the right ones at all. After cracking the code and figuring out that d was in fact i and u was actually &, I finally broke into my computer and realized some funny keyboard language button had been toggled. Now I’m typing English in the form that again makes sense 🙂
In our trip planning phase, we had a few days sandwiched between Berlin and Switzerland that we had to figure out how to fill up. We floated the idea of Nuremburg, another old German city that hosted the Nuremburg Trials. Venice, located in northern Italy was another option and we ended up choosing that. Once you’re actually in Europe, getting around is easy and inexpensive. Kinda like going from state to state here in America 🙂 To save money, we opted for an overnight train down into Venice, and I don’t think anyone slept well. I was seated next to a lady headed to the film festival that weekend and she was decked from head to toe with massive amounts of costume jewelry. She frequently left the little pod for smoke and bathroom breaks and you could hear her a-jingling and a-jangling long before you could see her 🙂
I’m not going to say too much about Venice because I’d been there before and blogged extensively about the charming city built around canals. We had taken in a lot of heavy, sad history in Germany so I was hoping that Venice would be a bit of a reset and in some ways it was. Venice is charming, playful, romantic, iconic, but it was also hot and very over-crowded. We had a little apartment tucked back behind Rialto Bridge and the Bridge was our water taxi stop.
I developed a bit of a sore throat, so used google translate to buy $15 cough drops at a pharmacy. I was kinda proud of my abilities until the pharmacist told me in her broken English that my chosen word for “drop” translated into a syringe motion, and i should’ve asked for a cough lozenge 🙂 I just pulled out the leftover lozenges the other day when I was sick and was happy for such a useful souvenir that brought back a funny memory 🙂
And now- on to Switzerland!!!!
All four of us girls are simple, small-town folk, and by this point in our trip, I think we were all ready to breathe fresh air and escape the crowds. Switzerland delivered just that and even threw in some of the most breathtaking scenery for good measure.
Our train trip up into Switzerland took us through the world’s longest train tunnel -35 miles long. After we emerged the other side, we were definitely seeing new scenery and our gasps of pleasure and amazement were quite entertaining to those around us 🙂 This was a travel day for us, which meant that food wasn’t always readily available so we were prepared with some of our American food that we had brought with us. I bought a fresh croissant in Venice at the train station, and begged a few packs of mayo from the lady as well, and was all set with a tuna croissant for my travel lunch. The best part about packing a lunch on public transportation in Europe is that everyone else does as well! There aren’t McDonalds at every other corner like there are here and people tend to bring their own food and its just so fun seeing people eat leftovers out of their tupperware containers 🙂
the view from my window
Switzerland is breathtaking! They have some of the most beautiful views in the world and they know it and they’ll make you pay for it 🙂 We found Swiss prices to be considerably higher than any other country, and you couldn’t even get a basic hamburger for less than $20. We paid dearly for a scenic train ride up to Kleinne Scheidegg but it was worth every penny. Kleinne Scheidegg is a mountain pass that sits at 6,762 feet and is busy with snow skiing during the winter and hiking during the summer. Our train route took us up through Lauterbrunnen Valley, Wengen and Interlaken, all three so breathtakingly beautiful that you could easily spend a few days in each.
When you’re in high elevation, you need to keep a close eye on the weather as it can change very suddenly. We knew rain was predicted for late afternoon so we reluctantly left Kleinne Scheidegg and headed back down to spend the afternoon in Lauterbrunnen Valley. I know I’ve used “breathtaking” too many times, but I just must use it this once more, because this might very well be one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. Known for it’s 72 Alpine waterfalls, and meadows running beside gigantic rock faces, it’s famous for a reason.
There really is no wrong way to enjoy Lauterbrunnen Valley. There is unreal beauty every where you look and you can’t really go any wrong direction here. We opted to walk along the little footpath that runs the length of the valley. It took awhile because there were cow herds with their bells, coming down for milking and they needed to be appreciated. A cat that needed to be petted and admired, and of course a gazillion pictures to take. Paragliding is a popular sport here, with people jumping off the cliffs and landing in the valley. Its a bit of heaven, the Lauterbrunnen Valley is, and the awe and instant worship it compels is something that was really special.
I probably had 50 pictures like this, taken with my phone out the train window, desperately trying to capture and hold what my eyes were seeing. This is Lauterbrunnen Valley, as we were approaching it on our way down.
Dahlias so happy and healthy they were practically falling all over each other.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it was ultimately the rain that sent us home. We got home before the deluge hit and then enjoyed a most delicious Indian meal at a local restaurant. We had walked about 7 miles that day and were ravenous and the food was wonderful! It was then time to pack up and head on down to Zurich.
I’m not sure what I was expecting with Zurich, but i was thinking of it primarily as the place we’d fly home from and less as one last, cool place to experience. I think because as an Anabaptist, with some theological roots going back here, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how beautiful and modern this city is. We found Grossmunster Church, which is where the Reformation was birthed. Zwingli’s church. We walked alongside the beautiful Limmat River and enjoyed the views.
I was struck by how nearly all of Protestant Christianity has these brave, courageous men, willing to die for something so much bigger than themselves, to thank for where we are today. Standing up to a church so powerful and corrupted with indulgences and confessions and so far away from what Jesus established cost them literally everything. I was also struck by how little I know of true sacrifice like this, and how easy it is to excuse my own laziness and complacency at times.
After one final doner kebab from a food truck, we were ready to pack up and head home. We flew from Zurich to Amsterdam, and then on to Atlanta and were so happy to sleep in our own beds and wear other clothes 🙂
Trips like this leave me with profound gratefulness for the opportunity to see other parts of our world, so big and beautiful. This trip was special because I got to introduce the travel itch to Ireland. Once you start, something stays in your blood and you just need to see more 🙂 Travel is expensive and I can’t do it often. But if you’re willing to live simply at home, work hard, drive older vehicles and not buy coffee drinks, its’ amazing how much you can save.
Traveling is stretching, it’s exhilarating, it’s exhausting, it’s humbling. Traveling lets you see how God did things in other parts of the world and how differently people do things too. I’m always thankful when I get back for lots of clean, free bathrooms here in America, a little grossed out by our fast-food culture, amazed at how well our systems work, but envious of how unbothered they are about pretty much everything. No one culture gets it all right or wrong and the fun of travel is that you get to compare and contrast, while still learning lots of new things.
I realize I didn’t give a lot of specifics on where to go, what to see and do, what to avoid etc, but if anyone reading this wants more of that information, feel free to contact me and I’ll give you what I got.
Thanks for going along!