Friday, November 19, 2010

Switzerland

"Oh wait...so, is Switzerland not the same as Sweden then?"
"Well what about the cheese? Is Swiss cheese from Switzerland or Sweden?"
"They have really good chocolate!"
"Who has really good chocolate?"

Had you been sitting next to us on the two and a half hour train ride from Basal to Interlaken, Switzerland, this is the intellectual exchange you would have overheard. Bubbly and excited, we chatted away and attempted to play a few card games, while we waited, waited, waited. 

I don't think anyone of us knew what was in store.

Until, out of nowhere, Switzerland was upon us. We gazed out the window and were shocked by the beauty and radiance of it all. The lake was a perfect crystalline blue, and we could see the reflection of the breathtaking snow-capped mountains in the water. It was SO blue. There were rolling hills, and the most charming houses I have ever seen, against a backdrop of pure periwinkle sky. And to think, this is only the view from our train window. 

We arrived at the hostel (Balmers!) and were greeted by a warm, helpful staff member, who assured us Switzerland was going to steal our hearts in no time. After a good nights rest, the group of us got up early Saturday morning and decided what we wanted to do. Some went skydiving, others canyon jumping. While these things are all incredible, once in a life time experiences, I am not the adrenaline seeking type nor do I envision I would gain any pleasure by throwing myself off a ledge, or worse, a plane, and thus decided on a hike. 

Jordan and I stumbled into a lady at a nearby shop who kindly suggested we take the "Wengen" trail, which takes you pretty high up and provides a majestic view of Interlaken. Up up up up up we went, for an hour and a half, and it was so worth it. The sun casted its soft glow on the green, green hills, making them shimmer and sparkle. Everything was so open, luscious and serene, and almost too good to be true. The beauty of Switzerland completely surrounded us, mesmerized us, swallowed us; it was exhilarating. Even the cows looked pretty. 

Our flight left at about 1:30pm on Sunday, but we all got up at 5:45 in the morning to go watch the sun come up. We found the perfect spot where all of the mountains came together in one place, casting their glory in the reflection of the undisturbed water.

Then, as if this wasn't enough, a gorgeous white swan floated towards us, clearly just as entranced by us as we were by her. She decided to stay very close to us, and we all watched the vibrant pink sun rise over the mountains.

As we walked back towards our hostel to grab some breakfast and finish packing, we saw a large flock of ducks in the pasture nearby. We began chasing them, watching as they flapped their royal blue wings against the chilly air back towards the lake, their home.

Lately I have been thinking that it might be time for me to go home, too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris, my Cherie Amour

"Cherished love," in case you're wondering. It fits so perfectly. Paris is a lot of things, it's lovely and charming, it's quaint but crowded, it's fast-paced and at times, slow moving. But more than anything, Paris is my cherished love. Alongside my cat Meow Meow.

The first day we spent in Paris was my favorite, because the entire day I felt like I was in a fairly tale. Paris absolutely enchanted me. 

 And so it begins...

Following the advice of a friend who is studying abroad there, Jordan and I went to a bakery for breakfast and I ordered a chocolate croissant. Needless to say, we went back there every morning and I ordered the same chocolate croissant for four days in a row. One day I had two. They were to die for. 

Without even realizing how lucky we were that it wasn't raining, we found the metro and headed towards the Eiffel Tower. Camera's in hand, we ventured through a beautiful little park and were immediately satisfied with our decision to be the stereotypical tourists for the day, because, well, look:
 
After deciding, Ok Ok we have had enough of the Eiffel Tower, we saw some stairs that led towards this plaza, which seemed to give a pretty good view of the city. We finally reached the top of the plaza, and took yep you guessed it, more pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Because actually, you can never really have enough of it.  
Later on in the day, we got some lunch at a cafe nearby. It was so picturesque and perfect. We sat outside, chatting and people watching and being Parisian, eating our fromage sandwiches.
We eventually found our way in the Jardin de Tuileries, a colorful garden with a nice path that takes you either to the Louvre Museum or towards the Arc de Triomphe. Before we decided on either destination, I had my first nutella crepe in the park. It was so gooooooooooood, I made a mental note to try and have one everyday!

We walked towards the Arc de Triomphe, got some cool pictures, then turned back around to spend some more time in the gardens and head towards the Louvre. We sat down, admiring the scenery and  feeling elated, when we noticed that the sky had turned into a magnificent shade of pink and purple, casting a magical glow on the water. Again, the feeling of being caught in a fairytale surrounded me, because everything was so new and exciting and blissful. Who was I to be sitting underneath this gorgeous pink sky, eating crepes and laughing with my best friend, in the most incredible city in the world?
                                                                                                                                                                                            The day came to a close as we toured the Louvre, then grabbed dinner at a local cafe by the hotel. The next three days flew by in a rainy whim, but I have chosen a group of pictures which I think truly encompass Paris...



Alas, my fairytale weekend came to an end. It was weird returning to the Madrid airport and getting that familiar feeling in your stomach, the one where you have just come back from an enjoyable trip and are overwhelmingly disappointed to be home. Except I wasn't back home, I was in Madrid, another incredible city. How spoiled we are...and how lucky.

Charles Dickens once said, "I cannot tell you what an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the World!"

So we are in agreement. There is nothing quite like Paris, my favorite city, my cherie amour.