Europe Trip 2016 || Day 10: Basel, Switzerland to Timahoe, Ireland

It was our tenth day of the trip, and we were getting on a plane again and traveling up to Ireland to meet our mom. We woke up really early that morning and got ready for the day before saying goodbye to Chris. She had a class that morning, so Lorenzo drove us into Basel to the train station before going to work. We got to Basel pretty early, so we got a locker for our suitcases and went into the city. Marguerite and I weren’t that interested in the city of Basel (we had seen quite a few European cities by now), and we didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore. We stopped at a coffee shop, trying to get wifi (which we didn’t end up getting), and had the most spectacular hot chocolate I have ever had. We then walked around the city some more, not really caring if we got lost or not. We just needed to waste time until our flight left. It was nice to have some sister time since we had been together quite a bit but not really just the two of us by ourselves. It was also nice to just wander without a clear direction of where to go. When found a Starbucks (how American of us…), we glad were drawn in, as we just needed the wifi so that Marguerite could write back to our mom. Then we headed back to the train station to get our bags and catch the tram to the airport.

We got to the airport a bit early so we had a soft pretzel and some juice before checking in and going through baggage check. Everything went really smoothly and before I knew it, we had touched down in Dublin.

Once we got to Dublin everything went pretty fast, and it didn’t take us long to get our bags or find our way out of the airport. We got outside and met Conor (another former counselor) relatively quickly. We (more like he) packed our stuff into his car, and he drove us back towards his town. It was a quiet car ride (Conor and I are both pretty quiet people), but we all had things to say since it had been a year since we saw each other. He took us to a round tower in the Timahoe town center that was used in the early times to look for invaders. That was pretty much all there was in the town center. Afterwards we went back to his house, where his mother Gill welcomed us as soon as we got there. We had a cup of tea and spoke about camp (Conor was returning again this summer). His father came in and told us that a calf had been born the night before, and we went outside to go see it. It was so sweet; all brown with a pink nose, but the mom wouldn’t let us get close to it. Gill had prepared a HUGE dinner with steak on bread with paté, potatoes, green beans and onions. It was delicious, but there was so much food. There was Bailey’s cheesecake for dessert, which we were all too full to eat,  but it was too good to resist. There wasn’t really much to do in Timahoe, therefore we watched Monument Men which I had never seen before. Marguerite fell asleep then started asking what was happening halfway through the movie, but she had missed too much to catch her up. Before we went to bed we chatted with Conor’s brother, Kieran who revealed many embarrassing stories of his brother and Conor told stories of his brother. It was a good, relaxing first day in Ireland.

*Didn’t have many pictures today, so enjoy these few snapshots and snapchats from throughout the day.

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Europe Trip 2016 || Day 9: Colmar, France

After waking up and having breakfast, Lorenzo took Marguerite and I (and Pandora, that dog goes wherever Lorenzo goes) to France. Chris had a study group for one of her university classes so she could not join us. Lorenzo first took us to the point where Switzerland, Germany, and France all intersect. We didn’t stand at the actual point because the actual point is in the middle of the Rhein, but we went to the monument which is as good as we could get. Lorenzo let Pandora off the leash, and she scared an old woman half to death. Lorenzo apologized, but the old woman was not having it. We then got back in the car and drove to Colmar, France.

In Colmar we walked around and saw the very storybook-style setting with colorful plaster buildings and a nice canal. I think Colmar might have been my favorite town that we visited. It was super crowded, but the houses looked so quaint and almost medieval. Also I absolutely loved all of the color. We had a little coffee and traditional Colmar tarte flambée (which was kind of like a thin crust pizza). We walked around for awhile longer before getting back in the car to drive to the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. The castle was built in the 12th century but was renovated at the turn of the twentieth century, after having been abandoned and destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War. When we got there, we figured out that dogs were not allowed in so Marguerite and I bought tickets and walked around the castle while Lorenzo stayed outside with Pandora. The view from the castle was absolutely magnificent. You could see for miles and mile.

After we had walked around the castle for about an hour, we drove back into Basel. There we met Rob Watts (another former counselor) and his girlfriend and Chris at a restaurant. It was nice to see and catch up with them after three years. After chatting with them for a while, we went back home and had stir fry spring rolls for dinner. After dinner we watched Mamma Mia and we all sang along, Lorenzo included. Then we went to bed.

Europe Trip 2016 || Day 8: Swiss Alps and Basel

We woke up early the next day and had a special Sunday breakfast of fresh croissants. Then we got in the car and drove to the Schwarzsee (Black Lake) so we could see the pre-alps. I mean, you cant go to Switzerland without at least getting a glimpse of the Alps. We walked around the lake, and I went crazy with the camera. I wish I could have spent a whole day there just exploring and what not. Valérie told us more stories about Switzerland while we were walking around. We got to see traditional Swiss cows and feed the babies and pet them. There we also people paragliding around the lake which was pretty cool to see. After we had made it all the way around the lake, we went on a driven tour around the Fribourg, looking for good views of the city. We parked illegally to get some photos of the whole town, then pulled off the highway to get a picture of a picturesque bridge over the Saane river that runs through Fribourg. Then we headed back to Valérie’s house to pick up our stuff so that we could catch the train back to Basel. Valérie walked us down to the station and we said our goodbyes. It was really nice to see Valérie again and she was such an amazing tour guide.

We took the train into Bern and then transferred to a train to Basel, where Chris Guillini (a former camp mom and tutor) met us at the station. She took on the scenic route back to her house which consisted of lots of winding roads. We got to see the Goetheanum and all the weird shaped houses of Dornach which is the center of the anthroposophical movement. Then we dropped off our stuff at the house and met Lorenzo and their dog Pandora (a little pit bull mix, such a sweet dog). Lorenzo (Chris’s husband) took us to the bottom of the mountain and Marguerite, Chris and I hiked with Pandora in the Jurassic alps. The scenery reminded me a lot of the mountains here in North Carolina. Since it had been raining a lot, we had a minor detour since the trail Chris normally took had a pretty fast moving river running through it. We managed to find our way around and when we got to the top of the mountain, Lorenzo met us and picked us up. We then went to a small brewery where Chris and Lorenzo knew the owners and everyone had a few beers and snacked on soft pretzels. Since Marguerite and I hadn’t eaten much that day Marguerite got pretty tipsy pretty quickly.  Pandora started getting restless so we went back to the house. Since everyone except I had been drinking, they let me drive us all back to the house. Pretty cool to now be able to say that I have driven in Switzerland (even if it was only for about 5 minutes).

When we got back, Chris and I prepared fondue chinoise which is one of our favorite family meals that Chris introduced to us. Basically its like fondue with a hot broth and you cook your vegetables and meat in the broth. It is so delicious. After dinner we watched Legally Blonde (Lorenzo’s choice) and Marguerite and I both fell asleep during the movie. We did stay awake long enough to hear both Chris and Lorenzo singing along to the songs, it was fun. After the movie was over, Marguerite and I went straight to bed. I think it was pretty obvious that we were both exhausted.

Europe Trip 2016 || Day 7: Bern, Switzerland

We were one week into our trip, and had no intentions of slowing down or resting. We woke up, had a small breakfast and then went back to the train station and took the train into Bern. Bern is the capitol of Switzerland and only about 30 minutes away from Düdingen, so naturally we had to go. When we got to Bern we hit the streets and walked around the city whilst taking pictures. We went to see the Bern bears (which are the symbol of the city), which is cool because bears are not naturally in Switzerland (which slightly confuses me, because why would they choose an animal that does not naturally live in that area, oh well). There were three bears in the enclosure so we watched them run about for a while and then grabbed a coffee at a little cafe nearby. Then we walked around some more; seeing beautiful old churches and a really old clock (Zytglogge) that was built in the 13th century. We kept on walking and exploring and managed to find our way to a history museum that looked like a castle, it was quite beautiful. Right was we were walking up the stairs, it started to pour. We quickly used the restroom and then set out again with our umbrellas. We got lunch back at the train station and on our way in the doors we saw a man playing the alphorn right outside the station, it was a true Swiss experience.

After our late lunch, we decided that while Bern was beautiful, we would rather go back to see more of Fribourg in the daylight. We stopped at a grocery store on the way to buy some Swiss chocolate (because, when in Switzerland…) to bring back home. The chocolate like Lindt and Toblerone was actually more expensive in Switzerland than at home which I found surprising, but Valérie showed us the chocolate that was typical from the area so we bought that instead. We walked around again and then went for a coffee in a hip little place. After a while, we went back to her house to have dinner. Her mom made us spaghetti bolognese which was very delicious.

After dinner Valérie drove us to another little town with a lake. We walked around for awhile before deciding to head home. When we got back we went back to Valérie’s room and laid on her bed drinking hot chocolate talking about boys (mainly Marguerite and Valérie) and then we went to bed.

Europe Trip 2016 || Day 6: Göttingen, Germany to Düdingen, Switzerland

After our last breakfast together, Johannes took us to the train station where we said our goodbyes. I had such a lovely time in Göttingen and had a blast catching up with Johannes again. The night before, we had bought first class train tickets (how luxurious of us) since they were only an extra 10 euros. I definitely felt like we didn’t belong in the first class car of the train though. Everyone in there was at least 30 years older than us and we probably wondering why two young travelers were in the first class car. It was worth it for our long train ride from Göttingen to Basel though. Having pretty much guaranteed seats was wonderful after our past few train journeys. This trip went very smoothly and we spent the whole time reading, and enjoying the free snacks of first class. It was fairly frustrating though because we never got our tickets checked on our whole journey. We only got asked IF we had a ticket but no one ever asked to see them or punched holes into them. We had spent a total of 230 euros to get the ticket and could have potentially ridden for free. But, in the end it is better to be safe than sorry.

When we arrived in Basel we switched trains and headed to Fribourg and then switched again to get to Düdingen where we would meet Valérie (another former counselor). Again, not once did our tickets get checked. When we arrived in Düdingen, Valérie was waiting at the train station to pick us up. We walked up to her family’s flat and met her parents before going back out to the train to venture into Fribourg for dinner. We went to a cute little local burger place called Cyclo Café which was very tasty. Then Valérie showed us around the town. It was a very cute little city, especially charming in the evening with the twinkling lights. It was definitely a change of scenery from the gentle rolling grassy hills of Germany to the steep mountains of Switzerland. She showed us around her university, then we went to get gelato. We then went further into downtown (downtown being the lowest part of the city, not the center) and saw the Fribourg Cathedral. We walked even further down and saw the city from below which was really quite beautiful.

Then we were walking to catch the bus back up to the center of the city but we missed it, so we took the stairs back to the top. There were SO MANY stairs. We had to take a break a few times, but after about 30 minutes of climbing up we made it to the top. There was a little train next to the stairs that was fueled by poop (I can’t remember if it was human or animal waste, but nonetheless). When we finally got to the top of the stairs, we walked to a little club and hung out there for a little while. We met some of Valérie’s friends and then managed to find a table and Valérie told us more stories about Switzerland. After about an hour or so, we walked back to the train station and went back home. Once we got home we were all tired and it was so late so we all went to bed.

*Today was primarily a travel day, and I forgot to bring my camera into Fribourg when we went out that night, so not too many pictures, but there will be tons on the next post