How to lose a mountain range…and tales of other lost wanderings

I believe I left off blogging after my fateful midnight train ride to my cousin’s in Lorrach, Germany…I”m thankful to report that I did make it there about half past 1 in the morning and sweet Lars was waiting up for me with a cold beer ready for me – excellent PTSD therapy.
Lars and his new wife, Alexandra, who is absolutely the sweetest person ever, totally made my weekend stay absolutely wonderful: we started off with a breakfast where I learned the European method for eating soft boiled eggs, complete with this little metal clunker that comes zipping down this little rod and cracks a perfect little halo around the top of your egg so you can scoop out the deliciousness; then we tally-hoed over to Freiburg to prowl around sightseeing and then zipped off to the best castle in Europe I’ve seen yet – fantastic ruins and best of all – a huge high tower we could climb up in and look out over 3 different countries – Germany, Switzerland, and France. Cool! Lars and Alexandra got married there last year so it was special to be there with them – terribly romantic backdrop for a wedding:)
We did a bit more wandering around and taking in some lovely views of the surrounding cities, but the finale of the day was being introduced to and partaking in a Swiss meal (more like a dining EXPERIENCE) called Racelette where you have these teeny little frying pans about 3×3 inches and a little table-top stove – you put bits of ham and/or bacon, onions, mushrooms, whatever you wish and fry it a bit while sipping on your beverage of choice and enjoying the company and then top it with whis incredible cheese, let that all melt a bit and then scrape the sizzling mixture over pieces of small boiled potatoes with garlic sauce. Repeat. Repeat again. and again. Gastronomic bliss. Was the perfect ending to a relaxing day – just what this traveler needed after two weeks. That and having lovely clean clothes to wear, compliments of Alexandra! ๐Ÿ™‚
Monday AM I attempted to go running (in hopes that are seeming more and more distant – that I can still run this marathon of mine in October) but didn’t get very far before I was wheezing like an asthmatic smoker. Blame it on the elevation – sounds good anyway. Basel is just a skip hop and jump away so I headed there to wait for an American friend I met in Croatia that wanted to hike the Alps with me. Basel was lovely as is seemingly nearly all European cities…the Rhine River flows right through the middle of the city and is a popular place for people to come and just socialize and enjoy the beauty. Being Monday, it seemed like everything was closed but found a couple churches that were open (I stumbled upon a huge police ceremony in one of them but they let me stay and watch for a little while – was pretty neat – i think it was some kind of rehearsal for academy graduation or something). I had a true Beerbrat sausage and sampled some cheeses that would have sent any cheese lover into delights: Truffle and Barolo and I can’t even remember the other kinds…Just so much fun. I prowled around a grocery store just to kind of look around – much like ours back home – and grabbed a bottle of wine, some chocolate and crusty bread. When in Europe, I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to buy…
Its quite difficult to accurately describe the following events but suffice it to say that my friend and I thought we had planned out our Alps hiking trip quite well – the whole google bit and everything – picked a recommended town with stunning online pictures – a lake, picturesque little houses and goats and green grass – what could be more perfect…We must have put in the wrong spelling or something for after hours of driving through the drizzly Swiss countryside we arrived at a teensy weensy town with no mountains in sight at all, no tourists, no, um, well, anything…ok..way off in the distance we did see a lake – a faint whiff of hope arose that maybe – maybe there would also be mountains somewhere off in the distance that we just couldn’t see… just HOW does one not see the Alps though? So we, fortified by some Italian pizza – yes, I know we’re in Switzerland, but Engleburg does not boast a wide assortment of restaurants along its one and only street. Fortified by our renewed plans – sketchy at best – and our full bellies, we set off in search of wifi and tourist information. Lo and behold, we were not far off from some lovely mountains…unfortunately for us it was heavy with cloud cover, rain and cold. Undettered, we set off to EXPERIENCE. THE. ALPS. Its what we came for and by gum we were going to get to this silly mountain range if it was the last things we did. I say “experience” the Alps cuz I think by this time we knew hiking was out of the picture. Boo. BUT there were a lot of lifts and with any luck (which we clearly did NOT abound in..) we could get on one of these and get to the top…
One more stop in a teeny village yielded a surprise parade of clattering goats led by sweet Hiedi-like children and a whole herd of cows wielding the most gigantic cow bells you’ve ever seen in your life…it was all so surreal and unexpected, I felt like I had just stepped into an alternate reality. I think I will remember that moment forever. One second you’re just on a cobblestoned, shop-lined little street minding your own business, and the next you’re hearing some loud clanging from aforementioned bells and animals passing by right in front of you and wondering if anything in the world could get quite more charming than this village with its herd of goats and cows and sheepdogs…
After one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever been on, we arrived at the lift – in front of – finally – a MOUNTAIN. Mt Santus to be exact – a glorious mountain – rocky and full of little waterfalls and over 2000 meters high. The lift ride was an engineering marvel and a bit of a freaky experience. Almost straight up in places and zooming through a dense cloud cover, we could see nothing at times. And it was getting colder and colder. By the time we got to the top, it was literally freezing. I couldn’t help laughing from exhilaration though – snow and ice and rocks… and beauty! We didn’t have much of a view (ok – we had NO view) but it was completely worth it and was so much fun! I had snow in my hair and I can’t remember the last time my fingers were so cold but I loved every minute…
Ahhh…so my next stop was Paris…wonderful wonderful Paris…I know I glow and gush a lot but I really can’t help it: I loved Paris from the first glimpse outside the train station. Wandering along the River Seine, dining on perfectly prepared duck, experiencing the Eiffel Tower aglow at night, walking through the gardens leading up to the Louvre, savoring toasted goat cheese and wine on a tree-lined street, climbing the stairs of the Arch d’ Triomphe to overlook the whole city… I was a little girl full of wonder and I delighted in it all…
I am now almost to Amsterdam aboard the most delightful train I have had in 3 weeks…granted I paid dearly for it – unaware that I had to book much in advance to use my Eurail pass. Oh well…live and learn. But I DO appreciate the Perrier, the proffered desserts and sandwiches and – the Wifi. Thank God for wifi…When you are thousands of miles from home and without any other form of information or communication, every hotspot is like a little oasis of sanity…trust me it is not easy to navigate through so many destinations without internet these days…
Amsterdam is my last stop before heading home on Saturday. I think I am ready to come home…I love traveling and all these experiences so much but have much to process and adult responsibilities…silly things like work and bills to pay and school to start back up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Grateful for my life and for the grace to do all that I have done, to have met the people I have, to have seen more of this world’s beauty, for a home to come back to, and for my family and a multitude of dear friends.
So some of the pictures are loaded in poorer quality for technology reasons… But hope you enjoy them anyway. Will post more when I get stateside:)

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