Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Visitors, Interlaken, and Munich . . .

Well, as usual here in Deutschland, I have been busy doing this and that. I have been working hard at work, and in addition I have some visitors here from the United States for a couple of weeks! Kelly and Matt arrived here this past Thursday, and things have been quite busy since.
Thursday night we did a little bit of celebrating in the park nearby, and also at a party hosted by my new roommates. We then got up early on Friday morning to get going on our big trip to Interlaken, Switzerland!
Interlaken is nestled in the Alps in a valley between two lakes. It is in the middle of the country, so the spoken language is German with an extremely heavy dialect. The German there was definitely a bit hard to understand. I realized before going to Interlaken that there would probably be a lot of tourists there, and the one only disappointing part about it was that it seemed like it was virtually all tourists. Sometimes it felt a bit like a college frat party even. All in all though, people were friendly, and we enjoyed our activities there.
Our one major activity in Interlaken was going canyoning nearby in the alps. It was a really cool experience that I wish I had some pictures to prove what we did. The purpose of canyoning is basically making your way through a small mountain canyon by rappelling, walking, sliding, and of course, jumping. The best part about the adventure was a seven meter jump down into a narrow canyon into a shallow bit of water. I'm not really sure how I did it, but there was no hesitation for me jumping off, and I wish that I could do it again!
Besides the canyoning, we did a lot of exploring of the town. Everything, and I mean everything is really expensive there. The Swiss Franc and the US Dollar exchange is almost equal however, the average meal at McDonald"s was about 11 Francs (yes I looked at their menu, and no I did not eat there). For our sleeping arrangements, we actually slept outside in tents, and had tentmates from both South Korea, and India, so it was a fun international experience. Before going to bed I asked my roommate how to say "Goodnight" in Hindi, and he looked a bit puzzled and replied "well we just say goodnight." Then in the morning, I heard him say goodmorning to his buddy among the garbled foreign words. Of all the words I could have asked him to translate, I sure picked the wrong one!
We arrived in Interlaken by way of train.  We had bough Eurail tickets, which allow you to pick different countries and a set amount of traveling days, and they basically give you unlimited access to trains.  This is good because, last minute traveling decisions are made very easy.  With virtually no security in train stations, and a Eurail pass, one can literally just walk onto a train and head off wherever you want within a few moments of deciding where it is you want to go.
So Sunday morning, we decided we had seen enough of Interlaken, and we decided to hop on the next train to Munich that morning.  About 6 hours later we arrived and had probably the most rushed travel experience ever.  We saw Munich in under three hours!  We saw lots of buildings, biergartens, etc. and snapped some pictures and moved on.  It was a lot of fun, and we are definitely glad that we got a small taste of this famous, beautiful city.  One of the rules with our Eurail pass is that we have to be back by midnight, so we hit the next train ride back to Cologne exhausted, and wondering what just happened!
This coming weekend we are headed off to Paris, Brussels, and Luxembourg.  I'll have info on that later!
Here are some links to photo albums from both Interlaken and Munich.  Enjoy!


Jennifer said...

Wow - Canyoning sounds amazing. Sometimes the greatest adventures do not yield to picture taking. Beautiful pictures though - I wish I were there! Wilmington misses you!!

Erika said...

just caught up on my reading! sounds like fun! definitely would like to go canyoning one day! sounds like a pretty tough workout! hope you are doing well andrew! miss you!