Saturday, September 22, 2012

Europe - Part 4 - (Switzerland!)

On the train to Switzerland we noticed a very interesting stain on the ceiling of our car.  Anyone want to take any guesses what it is and how it got there?  We spent most of the ride hypothesizing and still came up short.
We arrived late at night and were met by Franz, who was an exchange student for Brian's grandparents when his mother was in high school.  He and his family graciously offered for us to stay at their beautiful home in Bern, the capitol of Switzerland.

When we woke up in the morning this was the view out our window.
Their house sits up on a hill overlooking downtown Bern.
Here is a view from the porch directly outside the dining room.
They have very cute road markings in Bern!
Here's Franz!  He was our trusty tour guide for many Swiss excursions.  The first morning he brought us downtown.
Bern is built on a major bend in the Aare river.

The Aare is INSANELY blue.  It is fresh mountain water that comes directly from the Alps.

The downtown was SUPER cute.
There were a LOT of people waiting in front of this clock to see it chime.  It's apparently a pretty big deal...or something.

Brian found the public ping pong tables much more fascinating.

After spending some time in the warm sun, we headed down to the riverbank and found the "beach" of Bern.

There is apparently a HUGE movement in Bern called "Urban Swimming".  Basically there are paths that go along the river and you walk down with a mass of people.  Then there are various entry points were you can jump into the freezing water and be swiftly carried down.

We decided that we HAD to give it a try.  The red railings you see are how you exit the river.  There are multiple locations because many people grab onto the railing and are ripped away by the current.  As long as you don't miss the last one you should be okay!

The day we went there were LOTS of swimmers!  Below are two videos to give you a better idea of how it works.


The first half of this video will show you just how fast the river moves!  It's no joke - when you finally get out your whole body is buzzing.
The next day Franz took us to the Alps!  We took a little train high up into the mountains.
It was breathtaking.

After the train ride we hiked up a little further to get the best view possible!

This is a panoramic photo that we tiled together from several pictures.  It's pretty amazing, but still doesn't do the view justice.  From left to right - Eiger, Monch, & Jungfrau
Franz is a mountaineering veteran and had some crazy stories about actually climbing those peaks.

At the top of a little peak we ate lunch at this little restaurant.

Then we had ice cream at this little cart!

That night Franz and his son Caspar took us out for an amazing Swiss dinner!

The next morning we took another train back to Germany.  Fortunately we had some Swiss chocolate for the ride!
Back in Germany.  What's that up ahead?
It's Renee and Heike!

Here's the whole family!  We had a wonderful farewell party!
Albina was sitting next to Brian and decided to join him while he was drawing!

After 3 weeks in Europe and it was finally time to go home - On our way back we passed Greenland.

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

The Alps were breathtaking, each photo was beautiful! The river swimming was amazing, however I don't think I'm brave enough to try. I loved the pictures of my family but I want to know what prize Brian received in the chocolate egg he ate on the train!