Monday, October 28, 2019

Backpacking Europe Part 3: Switzerland and Spain

OK, if you are just catching up, so far our trip has taken us to New York City, London, and Paris. After being in the big cities and metro areas, we needed some fresh air. Good thing we were headed to Switzerland!
Switzerland is one of my favorite countries, and it's probably my top one on the list. I've said it before but it's just where God has done His very best handiwork. It's truly breathtaking in the most amazing way with every turn around a corner having another unbelievable sight to behold. This was mine and Landon's second time to visit this country. I usually like to travel to only new places, but part of the reason I didn't mind repeating this country is because of how much I love it.

After taking our train from Paris to Zürich, we transferred at the station to catch a train to the airport. We bought tickets at a kiosk but it was still confusing to find the right train. We asked for help to get headed in the right direction, and after we boarded we realized we had accidentally sat in first class. Thankfully it was a pretty empty train with a short commute and nobody ever checked our tickets. ;) 

Once we got to the airport, we navigated to the rental car center to pick up this compact car mini van.

And then we were bound for Luzern (Lucerne)! We were last in Lucerne two years ago. If you want then you can read about that trip here.

The Lion Monument honors members of the Swiss Army that died in the French Revolution when they were defending French royalty.

So we had been to the Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument) before but I wanted Paige and Austin to get the chance to see it. I learned on our first trip here that Mark Train calls this "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world" in his book A Tramp Abroad. I wanted to read the book after that and finally finished it...on this return trip. It sounds like good timing, but the book really just took me forever to read because it's long-winded and not an easy read.

Please note: we may or may not have driven on a sidewalk en route to parking for the monument. I have to include that just because. :) Funny memories.

We then walked to the grocery store and had a picnic while sitting along the shore of Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne). If I had to describe a perfect afternoon in my world, this just might be it--my little slice of Heaven.

I still have all the heart eyes for Lucerne.

The Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) in the picture above was originally built in 1300's (partially restored in the 1990's due to a fire). It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and is the symbol of Lucerne.

We walked across the bridge, visited one of the chocolatiers, then got back on the road to Interlaken.

Pure beauty in Interlaken. 

We found a little pub for dinner after enjoying a stroll through town in Interlaken. I wish we would have had more time to spend here, but we needed to get on the road to 
Flühli to check into our apartment. Our apartment was in the epitome of what you would call Swiss countryside. After a gorgeous, winding drive on narrow roads with beautiful rolling hills, gorgeous mountains, and towering waterfalls, we finally made it. The drive was so scenic and beautiful! We saw a ton of cattle (and heard their bells). We checked into our humble abode for the night. It was so cute! I wish I had taken more pictures of it. It was just simple. We woke up the next morning to the sound of horses outside our window. We headed out pretty early to drive back through Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. We drove up and had breakfast at Airtime Cafe which was appropriate since we had reservations to PARAGLIDE! This was such a huge bucket list check for us. It felt surreal that we were making this dream come true.
The Jungfrau Region Our pilots picked us up at the café and drove us a little ways up the road where we had to take a cable car to Gimmelwald and then a railway to Mürren (I think I have that in the correct order). These towns have poor to no road access and this is one of the only ways to get there. We then had about a 10 minute hike to the location for takeoff.
Executing our dreams together is one of the things we do best. :)
I mean. Breathtaking. I am so thrilled we all had this experience together. We were able to see the three w0rld-famous peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (as seen in On Her Majesty's Secret Service). This is one of the most distinctive views of the Swiss Alps with Jungfrau being one of the main summits of the Bernese part of the Alps.
One of the most memorable days of my entire life.
So free. So alive.
Perfect landing. :) I have a lot more pictures that my pilot took but honestly the pictures and even the videos do not do the experience justice. It is just one of those things that you have to experience for yourself.
After paragliding, we hit the road again for Bern. We loved this city!! I didn't really know much about it before going there, only knew I wanted to go. :) It's a gorgeous city with more beautiful water. Seriously, Switzerland and turquoise water just go together. There were people down in the Aare River on floats, and I still don't know how I kept Landon from going down and jumping in.
We had dinner at a nice restaurant overlooking the river, and then walked along the Bärengraben/Park (Bear Pit). I really wish we could have spent another day in this city to have more time to explore. We hit the road again and headed to our next apartment in the cute little town of Mellingen. This apartment was one of our favorites of the entire trip! The host greeted us and the place was just lovely and luxurious. It was close to Zürich because we had to be there early the next morning for our flight to Barcelona. :)

We dropped off our rent car, had an overpriced breakfast in the fancy Swiss airport (brioche, Austin?), and then we were bound for country #4, Spain...
ZRH to BCN. The girls sat together this flight and let the guys have their own space. It's the smart thing to do sometimes. ;) We took the aerobus to the square near our apartment then had a short walk to get there. After getting settled in, we had an afternoon meal nearby. Give us all the tapas and sangria!!! Then we took the metro to the Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music) because we had reservations for a guided tour.
The palace is a concert hall that was built in the early 1900's.
I enjoyed the tour because you learned a lot of the historical information, but I think it would have been even more enjoyable to have seen a performance here. It's gorgeous!

The next morning, we had timed-entry tickets to La Sagrada Familia.
One of my favorite things about this landmark is all the inspiration drawn from plants and animals along with tons of biblical symbolism that honors Christ.

This is a Roman Catholic minor basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí that, even though construction started in the 1880's, it's still not complete.
We had additional timed-entry tickets to one of the two open façades (we did the Nativity, you can choose between it and the Passion--the Glory still isn't completed). This isn't the best picture, but you can see in the background how there is still construction going on. Let me say something important here. We took an elevator up then had to take stairs down. Some girls were holding up the line trying to be Insta-models or something and get the perfect picture on the spiral staircase without any other people in the frame. That is so unrealistic in these crowded places at peak times yet the nerve of some people and how desperate they were to pose and model for iPhone photos was unbelievable. So those girls didn't like it when we asked them to please go and they wouldn't so we passed them in the narrow staircase. But it's rude to hold up the line especially in such an enclosed space where you are literally stuck if the person in front of you won't move. I enjoy Instagram myself but I could give you a million other examples from this trip alone of how social media and influencer culture is ruining tourism. But I digress. Just keep it real, be (and dress) respectful, and don't act like you're the only person present at a world-famous attraction is all I'm saying. ;)
View of the city from the façade. We stopped at a café for a snack, went back to the apartment for a quick rest, then went to Las Ramblas and walked around the market, of course stopping for more tapas and churros.
We then made our way to Parc Güell and walked around and enjoyed the scenery.

Our time here in this city was super limited and I wish we had more of it to take in the unique Catalan culture. I would have really enjoyed time to visit the beach and ride bicycles and explore more places off the beaten path. And enjoy more of the delicious food. :)

After the park it was back to the apartment to pack up so we could head to the airport early the next morning to fly to Rome! We had some difficulty getting a flight out from BCN to FCO due to a strike at the airport, which I will fill you in on our dilemma during part 4.

Switzerland and Spain were so, so good to us! Switzerland remains a favorite, and I hope to get back to Spain eventually to explore more of the beautiful country and even return to Barcelona. These days of our trip were some of the most lovely of the entire adventure.

If you missed the other parts and want to catch up...

Part 1: Intro and New York City

Part 2: London and Paris

Otherwise, stayed tuned for Italy, where we stay a few days in Rome, visit the Vatican, and take an exciting day trip. XO.

1 comment

  1. Looks like an amazing trip! I hope my wife and I are able to hit some of the same spots in our life!


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