Yes, highlights. I can only sit so long in a computer lab to blog.
After Christmas was Paris. This experience was more for Julianne than myself since I have now been there twice before. It was definitely a different experience though. We learned that the Louvre is free for students studying in Europe, so that was great! We of course saw the Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, Arc de Triomphe, and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower together. The Tower was lit up at night too, it looked much better then. My favorite was something new for both of us, we went to Versailles. However it was a Monday so everything was closed except the gardens BUT that was fine because it was a beautiful sunny day and LOTS of garden to walk around. Seriously, it was gigantic. Monday was our last night in Paris and we celebrated it BG style! Yeah, BG had seven representatives that evening in Paris. It was a good time, but alas Jules and I had to get up in the morning to make our way to Berlin…peace out Paris, I’m done visiting you for awhile.
Berlin!! Berlin was awesome. We arrived Monday evening and picked up by Sarah and Travis at the train station. A little background: Julianne knows a couple through church in Toledo who moved to Berlin a few years ago to do missionary work and who were SO NICE to let us stay with them for the 3 days we were there. It was really, really fun. Sarah and Ben Carey are the husband and wife and they have two children, Travis (3) and Hannah (1). Highlights:
1. When we got to their house we had a homecooked meal waiting for us
2. We drank a lot of delicious tea
3. It snowed!
4. We went on a free walking tour and met a boy from Australia and one from Canada
5. We visitied both the historical museum and musuem of musical instruments
6. Julianne ate a Currywurst, I watched.
7. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with the Carey’s and their wonderful friends, then played games and lit fireworks…in the street
8. We went to the Brandenburg Tor to ring in the New Year (craaaaaaaazy)
9. We watched episodes of LOST to which Jules is now addicted
10. WE BAKED AN APPLE PIE and had the MOST DELICIOUS German ice cream…I will never forget this.
Berlin. Really, it was so relaxing and eventful all at once. Travis and Hannah were so fun too! I got to practice some German with Travis, and read his German children’s books that he schooled me with in pronunciation. Funny. Many thanks to the Carey family. Off to Munich? No, Salzburg.
Yeah, we changed our plans. Originally we were going to Munich but then we got an invitation from my buddy Matt (who’s studying in Austria this year and who didn’t go home for Christmas), to visit him! Well, it was just too easy so we felt we had to…and why not go to another country. So we used our rail passes to get to the border of Germany and Austria and the took a 20 minute ride to Salzburg. Done. Salzburg is beautiful. Matt and his friend John met us at the station we walked to their cozy dorms where they have a beer vending machine…They were so nice and already had ideas of where to go and what to show us for the two days we’d be there. Highlights:
1. Played Euchre!
2. Walked to the castle on the hill, really great views.
3. John made Weinerschnitzel and potatoes for dinner
4. Jules and I then made stir fry
5. Just walked around town and noticed how everything is yellow
It was really cold but really sunny for the two days we were there and we really had a great time hanging out with Matt…in Salzburg.
Our final destination before Strasbourg was Switzerland and after some intense couchsurfing we decided our destination was going to be…Gossau, Switzerland! Woo! And exciting it was. We were first going to stay with a girl who lives in St. Gallen, but unfortunately she has a train delay which prompted us to reach out to the couchsurfing community and hope for someone to help us out. Well it worked in the best way. Anni and Vince, a newly married couple who live in Gossau, answered our cry for help and said we were welcome to surf their couch, so we did. This is how it went down:
1. Arrive in Gossau to be picked up by Vince and Anni
2. Arrive at their house and experience Raclette and Elk. (Raclette = melted cheese poured over, in our case, potatoes. Elk = yes, the animal)
3. Be treated to an array of cultural food, drinks, and great conversation
4. Discover Anni and Vince met through couchsurfing! She’s from Finland.
5. We watched a movie from Vince’s extreme movie collection (hundreds)
6. They took us to the Schwagalp Pass, Julianne got her mountain she was craving
Basically, they were SO hospitable, made us feel like we were home, and had tons of stories for us. When we had to make our way back to Strasbourg, they even drove us to the train station at 8am. They had the spirit of couchsurfing in all respects and Julianne and I really enjoyed our time with them.
Strasbourg bound! Well, almost. We decided we’d might as well make a stop in Zurich on our way to Stras so for an hour we walked around and Jules bought some cholcolate (which I heard was really, really good but I took her word for it). it was a really sunny day and Zurich looked good. Then on to Strasbourg we went and arrived Thursday afternoon. We were definitely a tired pair but we were determined to go to Jazz Night at the Artichaut so that’s what we did. Then I showed her my school, the Cathedral, and whatever else we passed. We were so tired though and the weather was just really cold/windy that we stayed inside for the most part and decorated my room. It was just like old times.
She left Saturday morning, and thus was the official end to Christmas vacation.