Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hikin up a mountain!

On Saturday night, we saw the strangest thing, a small parade of cows through the center of Interlaken! They were giant cows with huge cowbells around their necks that would ring quite loud as they walked through the street. We had no idea what this was for or why it was going on, like most people on the street, we just stopped and stared!
On Sunday, we decided to go on a hike up a mountain, AJ really wanted to be on top of a mountain before we left! Behind Interlaken, was a large hill with a restaurant on top. Most people take the funicular to get to the top, but decided to make the trek! Here we are about half way up with the town below us.
Most of the walk was in the shade which helped us out a lot, but in the sun it was quite hot! Every once in awhile there would be a clearing in the path that would give us amazing views of lakes, other mountains, and the towns.
We couldn't believe our eyes!
We got such an amazing view of Jungfrau!
We made it! After almost 2 hours of hiking, we made it to the top! Harden Kulm was the name of the spot we finally made it to. And of course the restaurant was really expensive! Around 25 francs per plate! Ouch! Luckily they had a little food shack next to the restaurant for people like us! We enjoyed a couple of really tasty sandwiches and explored a little more of the top before hiking down. The hike down was terribly difficult! Much more than the hike up! It was incredibly steep with all different kinds of terrain, rocky, big tree roots, water, gravel, mud! It took us almost as long to go down as it did to go up!
Funny Farm is where we were staying in Interlaken. It was a really unique place on the edge of town. It was a combination of a hotel and a hostel, you could book any of the things you see on the sign, it had a crazy pool with a slide ramp, a bar, restaurant, and a giant St. Bernard dog!
On ???? evening we arrived in Milan and met our couchsurfing host, Matteo. We headed for an aperative which is one of the most amazing ideas ever! It is at a bar, you order a drink, which is a little pricey, but they there is a buffet and you get unlimited food! All kinds of food! Quiches, pasta, fruit, bread, grilled vegetables! It was so delicious and much appreciated after eating bread and cheese for three days!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There and Back Again, Our Tale

We went canyoning a few days ago which constists of rappeling, ziplining, jumping, and rocksliding through a canyon filled with glacial water.
The first rappel is 150 down into the water and a little nerve-wracking!
Our first rappel and of course AJ is selected to go first. Quite scary when you have been given all of 5 minutes worth of instruction.
AJ at the bottom watching Erika begin her descent. She looked like a pro!
Some of the beautiful, yet dangerous scenery we passed through.
The group trying not to fall into the water and make fools of themselves while trying to keep up with the guides.
No comment.
We got to slide down this rock face on our backs which was pretty awesome! Especially because you didn't know where you were landing til you hit the water.
The slip and slide swiss style, not the kind you see in your backyard.
Erika on one of the first jumps. They gave you a specific technique to jump in otherwise you would hit the floor of the canyon possibly breaking your feet or shoulders.
This is the "big" jump which Erika was not allowed to go off of. The guides did not know she was a diver so they babied her a lot. Because Erika is so small she would get tossed around a lot by the rapids. The jump was probably 7 meters high and the target area AJ had to jump into was a 5 foot radius.
The leap of faith.
The huge boulder in the water is barely held in place by other rocks. It looked like it was about to crash into the water below at any moment but our fearless guides assured us it probably wouldn't.
AJ on the zipline. We could barely stay still because the rocks were so slippery and the water was rushing beneath our feet. You can not see it but the water is about 30 feet below us.
Erika on the zipline that went between massive rocks that were barely suspended by other rocks. Kind of sketchy but totally worth the risk!
The group as we trekked through this ridiculous obstacle course of sharp rocks and raging waters. It was hard to see most of the rocks because they were under rapids.
Erika in her Maus helmet, she got it because she was by far the smallest one in the group. She had just backflipped into the water impressing the guides greatly.
This is AJ doing a backflip off of a zipline into the water. We had to wait til the instructors told us we were in the right spot to jump in because there are rocks all around us except for that small little patch.
The entire group that went with us and they were all really cool, especially our two guides, the ones in the red and black helmets. They are pretty crazy and would leap from rock to rock much faster than the rest of us.
The cute couple halfway into the middle of a waterfall. The water was frigid and numbed your hands the moment it touched because it is all glacier water.
Overall an unbelieveable day with lots of adventure. We were exhausted after the 5 hour workout but will remember it forever! We definitely recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat!
Hope you enjoyed our excursion and we will try to keep updating and you up to where we actually are, Milan!


While we were in Nice, our hostel mates from Windsor told us that we should go to Interlaken. So, we did! It is an adventurer sports paradise with activities from paragliding, rafting, to canyoning and glacier climbing! It is perfectly tucked away inbetween two lakes and mountains all the way around! There is no such thing as a bad view in Interlaken.
Interlaken is in the Jungfrau region which is known for its mountains. It has the largest mountain in Europe which is nicknames 'The top of Europe.' We would have like to go there, but it would have costs about $175 each just to get up! Then we'd have to worry about getting down!
This is the view from our hostel window! We stayed in a 6 person dorm and were lucky to have the room to ourselves the first night. Later we had two brothers from New York and a guy from Toronto stay with us.
We arrived in Interlaken around noon and decided we couldn't be in an adventure town and not spend every minute on some sort of crazy adventure. So we rented bikes and decided to get up close and personal with the Swiss Alps!
Here we are, not too far along in our bike ride. Every few minutes one of us wanted to stop and take a picture of something! Everything was so picturesque!

As we were heading along the trail, we both suddenly stopped, looked at each other, AJ exclaimed 'It smells like strawberry rhubarb pie!' and Erika yelled 'I smell raspberries!' There were wild berries growing all around us! It smelled so delicious! But clouds were rolling in and we had to finish our trip before it was too dark to see.
Most of the trail was along this beautiful river that was full of rapids and small falls. As we were climbing closer and closer to the town, we would catch currents of cold air near some falls! It was incredibly refreshing!
This spot was so beautiful! We found a little hidden path off of the main one that led us right up to the water. You could feel the cool air coming off of the ice cold water! We stayed for a few minutes cooling off and admiring everything!

We encountered lots of animals along the way, each and every one had a cowbell tied around its neck! There were mostly sheep and a few goats and every once in awhile a cow.
This is the town of Lauterbrunnen! Erika was thoroughly impressed that she made it! The best surprise about the town was the waterspout on the side of the mountain! All over, it seems like the mountains are leaking and in some spots, like this one, that it is bursting with water! Every few minutes, we would see another stream or spout coming from the mountain.
We finally made it to Lauterbrunnen!!!! It took us 2 hours to bike up to the town, and only 50 minutes to get back to Interlaken! We didn't really realize the gradual slope up hill the entire way, but it sure did make the ride back easy.
Back to Interlaken for a picnic! In the center of Interlaken, there are two huge fields used as the landing site for the paragliders. Everyday, hundreds of people paraglide and it is so fun to watch them come in one by one. One day we were walking to our picnic spot and we heard someone screaming at the top of their lungs. We looked up to see a paraglider doing some tricks in the air and his rider was going nuts!
While paragliding sure looked like fun, we decided to splurge our money on something a little crazier! Check out our next post to see what it is!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Geneva one last time, and Annecy, France

Last Wednesay, it rained. So we decided to spend another day exploring Geneva to hit up the spots we missed on our first day in the city. Our first stop was the Je t d'eau, the huge fountain in Lake Geneva.
The fountain shoots water 450 feet into the air!
AJ got really creative here :)
Our next stop was the archelogical museum under the Cathedral St. Pierre. It was unbelievable how they were able to excavate this immense site underneath the cathedral! The ticket included the audio tour that described each area including a tomb of a chiefton, the oldest part of the complex from the 4th century. And yes, his remains are still there! This is a mosaic tile floor that was in the Bishop's reception where he would meet with locals.
Welcome to the Gun Show!
As we were wandering through the streets, it began to rain really hard. We dipped into a jewelry shop that just happened to be the oldest custom jewelry shop in Geneva! The lady working directed us to the Museum of Beaux Art and History where we were able to spend the afternoon while it was storming. We weren't supposed to take pictures, but when the guards saw us trying to take this one, he got a huge kick out of it and offered to take it for us!
On Thursday, our last day in Geneva, we decided to take a day trip back to France. We heard so many wonderful things about the town of Annecy that hopped on a bus and made the hour trek back into France. The town was incredibly beautiful with mountains all around and a canal that runs through the center. There were several churches to see including this one, Notre Dame de Liesse.
The beautiful canal that runs through the town is lined with cafes, ice cream shops and plenty of souvenior shops. It was very hot, so we splurged on some delicious ice cream, mango, raspberry and cherry!
Us! Enjoying walking along the canal!
A big surprise to us when we arrived was that the Tour de France was in town! What luck! But the town is so small and there were so many people that the main square was too crowded to spend much time in. It was an individual time trial and we were able to see a few of the riders start, but we decided to spend more time seeing the city.
Our favorite part of the visit was the Basilica of the Visitation which is quite a modern church finished in 1949. Its location high on a hill makes the views of the city and mountains themself worth the visit. It was quite strange being in the city one minute with thousands of people, then 15 minutes later, in a beautiful church with only one other person!
The interior of the Basillica of the Visitation which was beautifully decorated and quite ornate. It was definitely worth the trek uphill to see!
St. Francis' relics are inside this sarcophagus and I am sure it means a lot to Pat. As you can see we lit a candle and said a prayer.
One more view of the canal, mountains, and thousands of people watching the Tour.
This Palais de I'lle is the most famous view part of town and the building seen in most of the postcards. It was once the town's prison but is now used as the Center of Urban Interpretation.
Geneva was getting ready to have their annual summer party and how else would they celebrate than with a pre party! On our last night in Geneva, we enjoyed a delicious dinner with some of Lisa's friends and then headed out to see Geneva at night. This square was such a cool place to stumble upon! Each of those lit up tiles has greetings in all different languages like 'Good afternoon,' 'Buenas Noches,' 'Bonjour' and tons and tons of others. We are so glad we got to spend some time with Lisa again!