Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Run, Forrest!! Run!!!!!!

After my friend Jill read my blog from yesterday where I stated that I LOOOOOOOOVED Prague, she had the brilliant idea to post about a marathon in the city. Apparently, if I loved Prague THAT much, I would surely train and run a 26.2 mile race with her! HAHAHAH! Well, actually, I really considered it.

I really did love Prague that much. But most importantly, completing a marathon is on my list of lifetime goals. I'll take you back....
5th Grade: My dad is a pretty dedicated runner. Every morning, he got up extremely early to go for a jog. Usually it was about 5 miles. One day, he came up with the idea to run a marathon. So, he began training. I remember my mom dropping him off way far away from home one time, so he could run home during his training. The day came and he finished that baby in, I think, 3 hours 21 minutes. I was SOOOOOOOO proud of him! And I made sure that EVERYONE (well, all the kids at my school) knew he ran a marathon. I wore the (free) t-shirt that he received to school the next Monday. Such a proud daughter!
Since then, I have thought it would be pretty cool if I accomplished something like that in my life.

So I looked online for how to train for a marathon. I'm sure there are many websites out there that give you tips on how to train but I chose the first one that Google presented to me... Marathon Rookie. I open the website, start reading, and... welll... I'll take you through my thought process...
"Even so, many finishes say it was even tougher than they thought." Is that supposed to win me over?
 Well, the goal is not losing weight, so I guess I am on the right track so far.
You're telling me that I need to spend extra money? Because you know these shoes aren't cheap! Again, not winning me over.
 OMG, that sounds like A LOT of work. Actually, I don't understand a word that says.
Did you do what I did? Skip the reading and stare at Drew Brees? Oh Breesus! Anyway, Drew told me that I can do it. And if Drew Brees tells me I can, then I can! (I totally got sucked into that ad. Touché Marathon Rookie.)
 Aw man! I see people running with bottles all the time and it does not look fun!
 Okay, I'm good! I can easily run 3 miles.
 SIGN UP!?!?????? What???!!! Maybe, you should show me Drew Brees again...
I get myself totally worked up and my heart is racing because I am anxious - and not in a good way. I begin messaging with Jill and somehow she makes me feel better. Darn you, Jill, with your words and motivation! And looking at this schedule, it is totally doable. I mean, I don't have a job, so I have the time. And the purpose is to work your way up to it. AND according this schedule, I would not need to start until January 20th. That gives me a little less than 2 months to eat and drink and walk without pain! So at this point, I'm all like, "Yeah! I can do this! Yeah! <fist pump in the air> Luke, you with me?!??" Luke's response is, "<insert very inappropriate word here> NO!" What a wimp! Anyway, I tell him when it is and my hopes and dreams get SHOT! Apparently some two week trip to Italy we are planning is going to get in the way of this painful 26.2 mile race. I was pretty bummed! Sounds crazy? Yes, I know, but it bummed me enough to write a whole blog about it.

Moving on... I told Jill that I will not be able to run. And this girl has a back up plan! Who has a back up plan for when a marathon doesn't work out?!?! Well apparently a physical therapist does (that's Jill)! Her back up plan is running in a 15 mile trail race that goes up and down hills which will be before the Italy trip. So, I ask you folks... what excuse do I have now?

I get a shot in United Kingdom, you must first get a prescription for the vaccine from the NHS nurse. Second, you take the prescription to the chemist (British word for pharmacist). Third, bring the vaccine needle home and store it into the refrigerator. Fourth, take the vaccine to your appointment where the nurse will perform the injection. Yep, did all that today!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wrap-Up: Bavarian Favorites

Actual date of this event: 19 October - 4 November

Since I have been back from my trip, I have had many people ask what my favorite city was and what my favorite activity was. It is super difficult to come up with just one favorite town and one favorite activity.  After doing LOTS of thinking, I have come to appreciate things about some of the towns that I did not at the time. I have also come to think of some negatives about some of the towns that I did not before.

Here is are my top five favorite activities from the trip:

1.) Hiking to Andechs Monastery (Munich)

2.) Uetliberg Hill (Zurich)

3.) Hearing the noon bells at Prague Castle

4.) Hiking Kapuzingerberg Hill (Salzburg)

5.) Liters of Dunkel

So many of you have asked which town I liked the best. So here is how I rank each town we visited... starting from the bottom:

Tie for 10.) Hohenschwangau and Andechs --- Wait, you're saying this doesn't make sense because the Monastery was my favorite activity? Yes, its true. Andechs doesn't have much else but that. So if you are looking for a grand ole time in the town of Andechs, you probably wont find it. Hohenschwangau, it's the same story. There is not much else there except the castles. So, if you plan to go to Hohenschwangau to visit the castles, don't expect to find much else. That is why both of these are great DAY trips, not over night trips.

8.) Vienna --- Don't get me wrong, Vienna is a beautiful city, but it just isn't my style. It is loaded with museums, and unless it is a museum of wine, beer and Pappasito's Mexican food, then I'm not that interested. It also is very difficult to find a place to eat/drink that is not smokey. It is much larger than comfortable walking distance. We did not make use of the public transportation, but we easily could and should have. If you love Museums and don't mind smoke, then you would have no problems with Vienna!

7.) Bratislava --- It was REALLY REALLY hard to put Bratislava so low on my list. I hate that the weather affected our visit, and I hate that we visited on a National Holiday. It is not fair to the town, not fair that we experienced it that way, and not fair that you now have a negative view of this place. I think Bratislava is an up and coming place. It has so much potential! It needs a lot of work, but could easily be one of the most fun places to visit. Just like we did, Bratislava would be best for a day trip since there is not a whole lot to do. It was fun to relax for a day and have some cheap drinks!

6.) Garmisch-Partenkirchen --- GP is a great ski town. It is a great hiking town. If you aren't planning to spend your time there doing an outdoor activity, then it is best to stay elsewhere. It is a cute town, and you get great views of the mountains around you. Other than that, there is not much else there to see/do.

5.) Zurich --- Zurich. Is. Expensive. That is the biggest downfall for this place. The only thing keeping this city high on my list is the fact that everything else is AMAZING. There is a lake for water sports. There are hills for hiking. The Alps is right there. There is shopping. The public transportation is the best that we saw all trip. It is so easy to navigate around town and out of town. What more do travelers need?

4.) Munich --- I'm not a girly girl. I like beer. I like to go with the flow. I like to feel comfortable in my skin. This is how Munich made me feel. It was a casual city. It had some great parks that are awesome to hang out in, drink a beer, read a book, etc. Munich is also centrally located, so it is the perfect place to stay while you do day trips to other towns.

3.) Innsbruck --- I think it says a lot that I still have Innsbruck this high on my list even though our time there was pretty miserable with bad weather. I just KNOW that the town would be great no matter if it is summer (for hiking), winter (for skiing) or any other time of year. We stayed in one small area of town during our visit, so I am not sure what else is out there, but I desperately want to know!

2.) Salzburg --- Salzburg has some wonderful views surrounding the city. Mountains around you and that's not even counting the ones that we hiked. I said it before and I will say it again, it is amazing how a flat area of land can all of a sudden have a straight cliff to a large hill. I enjoyed walking the streets in Salzburg even though it was super cold during our visit. Salzburg is also in a great location for day trips of which next time, yes next time, we will take full advantage. It was a hard choice to make between my #1 and my #2, but Salzburg has some strange business hours. If it is difficult to find a place to eat at 12pm and at 5pm, then something is wrong. Everything else impressed me enough though to put it so high on my list.

1.) Prague --- Prague. Oh, I love Prague! Maybe it is because it was just Luke and me. Maybe because it was our first location of the trip. Maybe because Prague is not part of Bavaria and after a while, Bavaria started to get old. I'm not sure, but I think Prague has a lot to offer to all kinds of people. If you like the really touristy stuff, Prague is the way to go. If you like to eat and drink on patios, Prague is the way to go. If you like to see different districts with different qualities, Prague is the way to go. If you like to shop, Prague is the way to go. We spent almost 3 fulls days and at the time, we felt like we had done it all. Looking back, there is still more that we could have done. I would love to go back to Prague when it is a little warmer outside.

Where is your favorite place that you have traveled?

According to TravBuddy, this is how each town ranks in popularity for tourism:
#9 Prague
#13 Vienna
#16 Munich
#49 Zurich
#55 Salzburg
#56 Bratislava
#158 Innsbruck
(#186 Aberdeen)
#197 Garmisch-Partenkirchen
...stopped looking after 300...


Monday, November 26, 2012

Just a Backpack for 16 Days!

Ever since I had heard of the term "backpacking", I was dead set that I would NEVER be able to travel with only a backpack. I didn't understand how someone could put all of their clothes and all of their shoes into one small bag and be good for a whole trip. Immmm-possible!

It wasn't until last year, when I ran into my friend Adri at an LSU football game who told me she traveled for two weeks in Europe with just a backpack... I started to change my mind. If Adri, who has a similar personality and style to me, can do it, then maybe I can too.

When Dave and Jen started traveling all around the world, it got me even more curious. Jen always used her 44L rucksack and nothing else. If Jen can, then I can! And when Luke and I met Jen and Dave in Glasgow back in September, I asked A LOT of questions. I even watched Jen pack up when we were leaving Glasgow.

Knowing that Luke and I would be going on this 16 day trip throughout Bavaria, I knew I needed to do a test run early on to practice packing. I'm sorta OCD like that, but it is so worth the time... I had to be sure it all fit just right - exactly like a puzzle! I laid out all of the clothes that I thought would be best for our trip and gathered all of the other "things" I might need and packed them up into my old JanSport bag. It seriously all fit! But there was ZERO wiggle room. Wiggle room is important because items accumulate throughout backpacking trips and the extra space is a necessity! I decided I should purchase another rucksack that is bigger, water repellent and more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. I handed over a good chunk of change to invest in the Osprey 33L. It has a few different pockets, front straps and many ties to pull it tighter making it smaller.

Here are some tips for packing a backpack:

1.) Roll up all of your clothes --- Folding clothes the way they fit into your dresser drawers will not work. That takes up way too much space. Yes, your clothes may wrinkle a little bit (I will get to that in a second), but you are a traveler and you cannot be expected to look fully put together.

2.) Make use of Space Bags --- You know... the infomercial... the genius product that sucks the air out of bags after putting things in it... the bags that use a vacuum... Space Bags! I got the multi-pack from Wal-Mart which included bags that do not use a vacuum. And you don't need a vacuum anyway. Pull the bags almost closed, and then squeeze the air out yourself. It isn't exactly the same, but it still makes your clothes smaller than not using them. (Note: If you don't already, these are a MUST for ski trips! And you will find yourself using them for EVERY trip you take.)

3.) Choose clothes that won't wrinkle as easily as others --- Be very familiar with your clothes. Hopefully you are aware of which ones fit into this category. If you don't know, then do a test a couple weeks prior to your trip. Fold up a few shirts and leave them for a couple of days and see what happens.

This material dried quickly but didnt go back to its original size without a machine dryer.
This material was great for no wrinkles but didn't dry as quickly.
4.) Choose your shoes wisely! --- If a pair of shoes does not go with ALL of your clothes, and I mean that literally, then do not bring them. Is that impossible for you? Well, then choose shoes that can go with 75% of your clothes. It is not worth the space to bring a pair of shoes that you can only wear once or twice. (Note: Black shoes... choose all "black" matching shirts. Brown shoes... choose all "brown" matching shirts.)

5.) Do not pack the amount of underwear and socks for the number of days you are traveling --- For 7 days of travel, you don't need 7 pairs of underwear. Just re-wear your dirty underwear. Whats wrong with that? Just kidding! Just kidding! Just kidding!! That is gross. It's simple, bring a little clothes soap and wash everyday. Let it soak in hot water while you bathe, quick rinse and you're done! This may be pushing it for you, but it really is not that big of a deal. (Note: Underwear takes a day to dry. Socks take about two days to dry.)

6.) Purchase common toiletries when you arrive --- Toiletries take up the most space and they are the heaviest. You want to keep your pack light and as small as possible. Obviously, there are special products that you require and aren't sure if you will be able to find in you location, so yes, bring those. Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Toothpaste, Body Lotion, those can all be purchased upon arrival. Keep in mind that you want to keep the products under 3oz or 100mL if you will be carrying your bags on the plane with you.

7.) Pack your bag sensibly --- Items that you may not need access to right away go toward the bottom of the bag. Toiletries or items that need to be pulled our at airport security need to be on top.

8.) Wear your bulkiest clothes on travel days --- Bringing boots? Wear those. Big jacket? Wear it or carry it. Thick pair of jeans? Wear it. Etc.

9.) Pack your bag the exact same way every. single. time. --- If you will be moving locations often, it is important that your dirty clothes still get folded the way they came. You don't need to pack them next to your clean clothes, but they should still somehow be folded to the same size.

10.) Plastic baggies --- Plastic baggies always come in handy, especially quart size bags. Bring a few and don't throw them away if they can be reused.

11.) Be aware of electronics (for international travelers only) --- Even if you have a travel plug adapter and have checked the voltage requirements, your electronic device still might not work. Check the watts on your adapter and on your electronics to make sure you don't blow the adapter fuse. Happened on our trip.

12.) Wash and re-wear --- Who cares if you wear the same shirt twice? Really, who cares? If it is clean, no one will care. I had 7 shirts for my 16 days which means that I wore 2 shirts three times. I washed them. Who cares?! Jeans can be worn for at least 2 days. And wear them back to back... Don't run into the problem where all of your jeans need to be washed at the same time since they take a few days to air dry. (Note: If you plan to wash and re-wear, be sure to choose clothes that 1.) dry fairly quickly, 2.) air dry nicely)

13.) Bring a belt --- Even if you never wear belts, jeans stretch out and you will regret not having one. It doesn't take up too much space and it is very uncomfortable to constantly be pulling up your pants. Did you hear that Justin Bieber? Belt!

14.) Last and Most Importantly - DO A TEST RUN AHEAD OF TIME --- It takes practice to know how to pack your bag. I did a couple of test runs to make sure I could still fit everything in each time. Luke was so frustrated when I "asked" him to do a test run but he thanked me later for "asking" him to do it.

I think that concludes my experience of traveling with a rucksack. My experience was during cold days and we were not prepared. But it did give me tons of insight on what to do and what not to do. Summer traveling always allows for more space in the bag. The winter does not, but remember to wear the bulky items. And buy some space bags!!

To freshen up your jeans, put them in the freezer. Check it out and Check it out


Friday, November 23, 2012

My Hostel Experience

I cant remember exactly when I began having negative thoughts about Hostels. Maybe it was the movie Hostel, which I never saw, but had heard about. But I just knew, I was not okay with staying in one!

When I met Luke, he told me about the experience he had while traveling throughout Europe. He raved about how many people he met and how fun it was - he still talks about it to this day. His trip included sleeping in hostels and sleeping on park benches. Again, I will NEVER go on a trip like that!

After speaking with many many many people, I had learned that not all hostels are what I imagined. I have high maintenance sleep issues, but I also have a strong desire to spend as little money as possible. Knowing how much we were already spending on our trip and how I can sleep when we got back to Aberdeen, I decided to give it a try while we stayed in Vienna, Austria.

Here are a few stereotypes I had in mind prior to my stay, and also what I learned during my stay:
1.) You sleep in a room with strangers --- yes, you do but only if you choose to. At a cheaper rate, you can choose to stay in a room with random people. You can also choose a co-ed room or a room of your same sex. We had four people in our group, so we stayed in a room with just the four of us. If it was just Luke and I, we would have chosen to stay in a two person room.
2.) They are dangerous... people steal your things... people get into your bed... etc --- Just like any place, if you are smart then you should be fine. Our place, and from what I have been told about most hostels, have lockers in the rooms, so you can store your things. If you choose to stay in a room with strangers, then you can secure your belongings in your locker. If you choose to stay in a room with people you know and trust, then you don't really need to use a locker because the doors to the rooms lock. If you stay in a room with strangers, then you do run the risk of someone who is drunk getting in your bed. Like bed & breakfasts, the front entrance locks so only paying guests can get in after hours. If something is a reasonable problem, you can always report it to the staff.
3.) They are noisy and loud --- They can be. But so can hotels and so can bed & breakfasts. Hostels do generally have younger crowds who like to stay out later, so sometimes they can be rowdy in the hallways. There are signs all over telling people to be quiet during certain hours. Again, hotels can be just as noisy.
4.) There are bunk beds --- Yep, there are bunk beds. It really isn't that big of a deal. Its a bed and you are paying a cheaper rate to sleep in it, so stay somewhere else if that is a problem for you.
5.) Smelly hippies stay at hostels --- Maybe. During Luke's after-college European adventure, I'm sure he was one of those - maybe not the hippie, but probably the smelly. At the Wombats in Vienna, I saw no one that looked like a smelly hippie, aside from the staff. The guests looked clean and sane... not that hippies are insane.
6.) They are smokey and dark --- Not the one we stayed at. Wombats was brightly lit, colorful, and not smokey. The place was a no smoking zone, even the bar (except for Halloween night), so it was nice to get away from the rest of the venues in smokey Vienna.
7.) They are really cheap --- Generally, they are cheaper than hotels or bed & breakfasts. It all depends on what you want and how many people are in your group... so the price can get close to a hotel if you are being picky.
8.) The staff is very helpful --- If you read the history of hostels, it states that the first few encouraged outdoor activity. In general, they want you to experience the most of their city and have a strong knowledge of the places to see, places to eat and how to save money but still have a great experience. Many of them have a table or board that posts the activities going on around town.

The Wombats City Hostel in Vienna was apparently a nice hostel according to my friend Dave and Jen. It reminded me of a college dorm, but it was actually so much nicer! I guess I got lucky spoiled with my first experience....

All four of us stayed in one room, so there were two bunk beds. We also had a bathroom in our room. We were given sheets upon arrival, and we got towels by request. Not all hostels give you towels --- you may to have to pay a small fee or put down a deposit. We also had four lockers and were given key cards for the lockers in exchange for IDs (so they could get the cards back). I needed a hair dryer which was supposed to be a 10 Euro deposit, but I didnt have money when asking for it, so they took my word that I would return it and gave it to me for free. There were also signs stating that no food or alcohol was allowed in the rooms to prevent bugs and rodents.

The "lobby" of the hostel had a vending machine, couches, tons of computer, free wifi, and a few TV's. There was also a large cork board filled with flyers of the city's events.

computer area
circular couch to encourage socializing
front desk
cork board with flyers and brochures
The hostel had a smoke-free bar, The Wombar, that included a pool table, couches and cheap drinks & food. It was open from 6pm until 2am (unless it was Halloween, then it was smokey and open all night :-\). For staying at the hostel, we got a free welcome drink!

very difficult to see,
but people are sitting on couches
in the bottom left
and the bar is toward the back
To get to the cafe, you had to enter the bar and go upstairs. The cafe consisted of a bunch of tables because this where you ate breakfast in the morning. There was also a shared kitchen that had 4 four-top stoves, ovens, a sink and many dishes to share. If you purchased food, you could cook in the kitchen and use the two refrigerators and cabinets to store your food. You were required to clean up after yourself if you cooked or used the cafe during your own time.

The hostel was fairly secure... at night, you had to use your key card to enter the hostel lobby. You had to use your key card to get onto your floor. You had to use your key card to get into your room. And last, you had to use your key card to get into your locker where you secured your belongings.

front entrance - that's Luke with his pack :-)
It was definitely as interesting experience - it so much reminded me of college which brought back such fun memories! I can see why staying in hostels is so appealing to the younger crowd. Does this mean I am old or does this mean I am still young? Hmmmmmmm. We actually saw a family of four (the kids were around ages 5-7) eating breakfast one morning! For such a short period of time, a hostel is worth staying in to save money. And since Luke and I spend so little time in our room, we rarely need anything fancy! Add and to the research list when looking for lodging on our next trips!

2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the first permanent hostel to open its doors to travelers in 1909 in the Altena Castle in North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany. So if the concept has been around for that long it can’t be all that bad. source


Friday, November 16, 2012

Europe 1.10 - Zurich, Switzerland

Actual date of this event: 2-4 November

We woke up on Friday morning in Vienna around 3:30am to catch a cab to the airport to go to Zurich. Our cab ride was a pretty scary one!
1.) this "cab" was actually a car service... there were no markings on the vehicle saying it was a taxi
2.) there was no meter in the vehicle keeping track of distance, time and cost
3.) it was super foggy that morning (Jen: It's like a video game!)
4.) the ride was supposed to take 40min and took us 15min because...
5.) the driver drove at 180km/hr on the interstate... I'll do the math for you, thats 111.8mph!!!!
Anyway, we get to the airport with lots of time to spare, but we are all very sleepy since it was super early and none of us had breakfast or coffee. The flight was short, about an hour, and we got to nap most of the time.

The Zurich airport is NICE! Its super shiny and there is tons of shopping. The train station is right in the airport (outside of security of course) so you don't even have to go outside to get to it. Trains arrive and leave every 10 min at the airport to take people to and from the city which was super convenient. And the trains are double-deckers so we got to sit on the top :-)

Left: This was one of many giant candies at the airport
Right: Each train stop was decorated differently

We got to the city around 8:30, and we had a while (9.5 hours) until we could pick up the keys to our apartment. We a found locker in the train station to store our rucksacks, so we could go explore the city without carry them around. Good thing we did because we did quite a bit of walking that day! The sun was out, and it was warmer than we had been experiencing. So far, Zurich was toward the top of the favorite city list!

Sheets of swiss chocolate

 Right: Luke drinking out of a public water fountain

Working garden clock

 More chocolate shops!

Common scene on our trip
Around noon, Dave had heard of a cool store called Freitag that produces bags from old truck tarps... a Green thing. So we headed way across town to go take a look. Very cool store!

Freitag is built from shipping crates... 7 stacks
 Left: All of the bags were different, so you could really pick exactly what you wanted

You can climb to the top crate of the store to see the city from above
The top deck got really crowded and you could feel it moving!
Behind Freitag is a bunch of unique shops and a bar. Again, all similar Green style. So we sat and had a drink. We were all feeling the pains of waking up so early at this point.

We had to keep moving though because we still had about 3.5 hours before we could get the keys. We were near the Prime Tower which is a skyscraper with a restaurant at the top. We attempted that but it was packed and they weren't even letting people up the elevator. Jen and I were hoping for snack, but it seemed that no where was serving food. Seriously, it felt like Salzburg all over again. We wandered back toward the train station, walking through the red light district, stopping in a grocery store for a snack, and we decided to pick up our bags. We walked about 45 min in the direction of the apartment to find a place to hang out in before we needed to get the keys...

We found our apartment on AirBnB. The problem was that everything in Zurich was super expensive! We could not find a place cheaper than $100 a night... and we were only being picky by location. It was even more expensive if we tried to get a place for 4 people instead of 2. We found this apartment and it was $150 cheaper to say only 2 people were staying in it. With that being said, when the keys got picked up only 2 people could go. So Dave and Jen left for the apartment while Luke and I stayed back. Sounds like a hassle, but so worth it to save $150. The apartment was located on Morgartenstrasse. It was on the fourth level and had two bedrooms and one bathroom. It was a VERY old place. The hot water ran on gas and the boiler was located in the shower - really, a flame was right there while you showered, and it made a ton of noise. The floors were extremely creaky, so it was impossible to not make noise in the middle of the night. The lady that lived here was a total hippie! She had an antique typewriter sitting on the couch... as decoration. She had an old polaroid camera... as decoration. She had yoga books everywhere. She did not have any pepper in the house. She did not have a hair dryer. She had a huge amount of tea bags and tea leaves in her kitchen. And there was no TV. Total hippie. It did the job for the two nights we stayed, and we got a great deal (by us cheating), so I am not complaining at all. Especially since, the beds, although on the floor, were quite comfortable. :-)

After we got the keys, Dave cooked up a yummy dinner of burgers, broccoli and potatoes. We hit the sack not long after.

On Saturday morning, the sun was still out and it was even warmer than the day before. How is it possible that Bavaria has colder weather than a town next door to the Swiss Alps?! We decided that we would take a train to the top of a hill since it had been something we wanted to do since the beginning of the trip. It was the perfect day to do so! We walked the mile to the station and took a 20 minute train to the top of Uetliberg Hill/Mountain.

Apparently, the mountain has an 8 mile hike that displays the solar system to scale as your walk. We saw a few of the planets and it was cool to see the size of Mercury (grain of salt) compared to the sun (ab ball). We found some look out points before making our way to the main area.

We climbed the 178 step tower for FREE and saw the most amazing scenery. The Swiss Alps, folks!

178 stairs to the top!
And here is Luke and me trying to take a pic together...

Even though we could have looked at the views around us for ages, we knew we had to leave at some point. We thought it would be fun to walk down the hill rather than take the train back. After deciding which route to take, we began our descent.

After a few minutes, the descent became steeper and steeper.

It was so difficult to not fall flat on your face going down this hill it was so steep. So steep, that they made stairs on the side of the trail because it would be easier to take the stairs. We kept passing all of these people going uphill, and we were glad we were not them! We even saw people running, although they were mostly bouncing in place.

After 1.5 miles going down, we reached the bottom... where there was a sign telling your stretches to do before going up the hill! We saw a little shopping area, so we stopped for lunch and a drink. And then we kept walking. I'm telling ya, we walked about 10 miles this day. Anyway, we headed back toward the lake. It was such a beautiful day! I was even able to wear only my short sleeve shirt that day! Such a change from Bavaria!

We walked back toward Old Town to have a few beers before attempting an early dinner. We had heard of an Ethiopian Restaurant that was supposed to be one of the best. It was a pretty good walk to a nice-so-great area of town. When we finally got there, the place was closed. Closed for good! We were soooo disappointed! We had no idea what to do next then.

Left: Two pitchers of beer = 40CHF ($42.38)
Right: This tunnel was about half a mile long

We took a break for a minute and used Trip Advisor to find us a place for dinner. We ended up at Five Spice which was a very yummy Thai place. Since Luke and I had another early morning the next day, we went back to the apartment for the night. We had a few drinks, and we packed up our things to avoid the morning rush.

Swiss Ice Cream - Coffee flavor
On Sunday morning, Luke and I got up around 5am, walked to the train, and flew out at 8am. We arrived back in Aberdeen around noon. It was strange coming back after a trip in a few foreign countries. We spent 16 days in places where English was not the primary language. And when we got back to Scotland, English still didn't sound right... because of the accent. But it was nice to have a full conversation with our cab driver and not have to worry about a major language barrier. We hadn't really talked with someone for a good amount of time since we left - other than our traveling crew. It was a super fun trip, but it was LONG. We learned a lot, we experienced a lot and we have a better understanding of how to travel. I still have so much that I would love to say about our trip!

This concludes the blogs on each city, but look for a few more blogs such as the backpacking experience, the hostel experience and my favorites of the trip.

Why do I love Zurich? Mountain views, lake views, cobblestone streets and alleys, and its clean!

What surprised me about Zurich? The cost of living! Prices are jacked up. For instance, picture a tall coffee from Starbucks... the same size cup of regular drip coffee in Zurich costs 6CHF (Swiss Franc) which is $6.35. Madness!!!

Public transportation in Zurich is HUGE. The trams run back to back, so you never have to wait more than a minute for the next tram to arrive. Also, trains take you to the outskirts of the city as well.

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