Dear Europe (Day 3)

Right! So on day 3 of our European adventure we traveled to Titlis, the (I think) 3rd highest peak in Switzerland. We were super excited as it would be our first chance to play in the snow.

After 3 cable car trips in total, roughly 45 mins of travel, we arrived at 10 000feet and were greeted by breathtaking beauty. The cable car ride took us through various clouds and at times visibility was zero.  But the view and the experience was worth the trip. What surprised me most was the fact that it wasn’t nearly as cold as we had anticipated, despite the snow I was waltzing around in a pair of jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and a fleece top.  To be honest it was a bit of a mind-boggling experience.  When we started on the first cable car ride it was clearly in the middle of summer with over 30 degrees, yet there we were 45 minutes later standing on a mountain top with snow as far as the eye could see.

On our first of 3 cable car rides
On our first of 3 cable car rides
Cable cars disappearing into the clouds
Cable cars disappearing into the clouds
A group selfie as we wait for our next cable car...you'll notice that at this point we had to don our jackets:)
A group selfie as we wait for our next cable car…you’ll notice that at this point we had to don our jackets:)

The beauty that awaited us at the top

Titlis - 10 000 feet
Titlis – 10 000 feet
From the top..the cable car disappearing into the clouds
From the top..the cable car disappearing into the clouds

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After playing around in the snow for a bit and taking about a gazillion pictures we ventured over to the Cliff Walk…the highest suspension bridge in Europe.  We had been talking about this particular experience for days.  I am beyond scared of heights but, as I explained it to everyone afterwards, I think my fear of missing out on a once in a lifetime experience is bigger than my fear of heights and I was determined to cross that bridge. As it turns out…i was the only one out of the four of us brave enough.  The boys took all of 4 steps, took a picture and got off the bridge as fast as they could as soon as it started swaying. The other girl wouldn’t even try.  So there I was, all alone with my fear but determined to conquer, and conquer I did.  I walked all the way to the other side without hysterically bursting into tears and proudly got another single traveler to take pictures of me, I of course returned the favour.  On my return journey I even helped a girl who was stuck in the middle of the bridge sobbing hysterically.  I felt so sorry for her because I understood exactly how she felt, and everyone was just walking past her and ignoring her.  During our time on Titlis the clouds would, from time to time, completely cover the mountain and for a few seconds you wouldn’t be able to see anything. This happened while we were on the bridge too and I’m not sure if not being able to see how high we were made it better or worse.  But I was on a super high for the rest of the day. What an incredible experience!

Standing on the Cliff Walk. The picture gives you NO idea how high it actually is. Those tiny rocks at the bottom that almost look like gravel...bigass boulders.
Standing on the Cliff Walk. The picture gives you NO idea how high it actually is. Those tiny rocks at the bottom that almost look like gravel…bigass boulders.
That's me posing on the bridge while being swallowed by a cloud.
That’s me posing on the bridge while being swallowed by a cloud.
Proudly posing on the other side of the bride...I DID IT! (Picture courtesy of Ivor - the other single traveler)
Proudly posing on the other side of the bride…I DID IT! (Picture courtesy of Ivor – the other single traveler)
More epically thrilled smiley pictures...I came, I saw, I conquered
More epically thrilled smiley pictures…I came, I saw, I conquered
Playing in the snow.....I was hit by a snowball like 2 seconds later...luckily I noticed it when taking the picture and managed to save the camera:)
Playing in the snow…..I was hit by a snowball like 2 seconds later…luckily I noticed it when taking the picture and managed to save the camera:)
Ruby the snowboarder
Ruby the snowboarder

After I returned and found my friends, who patiently waited around playing in the snow while I was being brave, we headed on over to the glacier to do the glacier walk.  Yep, I got to walk inside an actual glacier.  It’s weird experience, knowing that you’re walking inside ice that is thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years old….being able to touch history…I was, and still am, in awe.

Standing inside the glacier
Standing inside the glacier
Touching history
Touching history
More glacier awesomeness
More glacier awesomeness

Our antics in the snow were followed by a lovely meal on top of Titlis.  And of course we had to try out another of their local brews:) Here are some of the pics we took from our table out the windows that pretty much form the entire wall of the restaurant…i suspect it may have been the meal with the most spectacular view I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

My late lunch view
My late lunch view
More views from my table
More views from my table
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Dear Europe (Day 2)

On Tuesday 13 August I woke up, no longer a weary traveler, but with the realisation that I WAS IN SWITZERLAND! You are welcome to assume that waking up and hearing the cow bells softly chiming and running outside onto the balcony and watching the green GREEN grass and smelling the fresh air brought on a bit of a shriek.  SWITZERLAND!

We had spent the weeks before our departure as well as the night before, setting out a “more or less” plan i.e. there were certain things we really wanted to see and which days would suit those things best.  So on Day 2 we were heading out to Zermatt, the little town where the Matterhorn, fondly known as chocolate mountain, is located. Now if you’ve ever had a Toblerone chocolate you would have spotted the picture of the mountain on it…that, my lovelies, is the Matterhorn.

We set off on quite a long journey.  First we travelled back towards Lucerne, where we missed our train (by seconds) and had to waste 45 minutes.  It was well worth it though as we got to see the historic Chapel Bridge.  it is the oldest wooden bridge in Switzerland and one of the oldest in Europe.  There are original artworks on the bridge depicting historic events and walking across it is really quite the experience.  Not to mention the beautiful bright flowers EVERYWHERE.   A section of the bridge had burned down somewhere in the 90’s and had to be rebuilt, but they attempted to make it as close to the original parts that were left as possible.

This is without a doubt my most favourite pic from the holiday. It is puzzle perfect.  The view from the Chapel Bridge
This is without a doubt my most favourite pic from the holiday. It is puzzle perfect. The view from the Chapel Bridge
On the Chapel bridge.  See the triangles...those are original artworks
On the Chapel bridge. See the triangles…those are original artworks
How beautiful is this bridge?
How beautiful is this bridge?
One of the original artworks along the roof of the bridge
One of the original artworks along the roof of the bridge
And of course i had to get proof that I was actually there:)
And of course i had to get proof that I was actually there:)

From Lucerne we took several more trains until we finally arrived in Zermatt.  Along the way we got our first glimpse at glacier water.  It’s amazing how different it looks from the crisp, clear water at the bottom of the mountains.  The glacier water is slightly grey and appears milky due to all the minerals.  We also spotted our first glacier.  Guys I can not begin to describe that feeling.  It looks like water rushing down the mountain, only it is stopped in time.  The difference between the glaciers and the snow is quite obvious, but unfortunately my pics aren’t of great quality as they were taken from a rather fast-moving train:)

Glacierwater...note the difference between this and the water from the pictures taken in Lucerne
Glacierwater…note the difference between this and the water from the pictures taken in Lucerne
Snow covered mountain tops in the background, glacier towards the front.  The part that looks like water rushing down the mountain.  It's breathtaking!
Snow covered mountain tops in the background, glacier towards the front. The part that looks like water rushing down the mountain. It’s breathtaking!
Snow in the background, glacier towards the front. Bad pic I know...reflection from the train window kinda messed it up a bit
This one is slightly more zoomed in.  Bad pic I know…reflection from the train window kinda messed it up a bit

By the time we reached Zermatt we were absolutely starving.  We had been busy all day and it was already way past lunch time so we stopped at The Brown Cow, where we had our first taste of the local brew and feasted on the Zermatter burger.  The one thing we did notice is that the Swiss make incredible fries.  It is probably the best I’ve ever had in my life. Odd, but true.

A street view of Zermatt from The Brown Cow.  No cars allowed except for these weird, tiny little taxi things
A street view of Zermatt from The Brown Cow. No cars allowed except for tiny little taxis
My first taste of one of the local brews. As a non beer drinker no one could have been more surprised than I was when i realised it was really yummy...not like the nonsense they make here.
My first taste of one of the local brews. As a non beer drinker no one could have been more surprised than I was when i realised it was really yummy…not like the nonsense they make here.

After our rather late (understatement) lunch we walked out of the town and towards the foot of the mountain where we tried our very best to pose with this rather majestic lady.  But she was very shy and the tip kept hiding in the clouds.  We finally managed to get a 20 second glimpse of the mountain in its entirety and it was AMAZING.

Looking back at Zermatt from the mountain's side of the town
Looking back at Zermatt from the mountain’s side of the town
Our fist glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn
Our fist glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn
Just outside Zermatt
Just outside Zermatt
LOOK! I'm in Switzerland. I promise the mountain was in the background, but with all the glare from the clouds we couldn't actually get a picture of ourselves and the mountain together
LOOK! I’m in Switzerland. I promise the mountain was in the background, but with all the glare from the clouds we couldn’t actually get a picture of ourselves and the mountain together

After touristing around for a while we finally started the long journey home.  Along the way i took this beaut…which will be part of the iPhoneography exhibition on Thursday (nudge nudge wink wink).

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We traveled somewhere in the region of 13 hours in total on Tuesday and only reached home at around midnight. Tired but happy:)  And excited, because tomorrow will bring Titlis and the skipark and walking inside a glacier and playing in the snow.

Watching the beautiful sunset from the train while sipping on red wine
Watching the beautiful sunset from the train while sipping on red wine

As a side note.  If you are traveling to Switzerland and you plan on exploring the whole country and not just the city you’re staying in, the Swiss pass is definitely the way to go.  I made up the cost of my 8 day pass by the 3rd day of traveling. All public transport is free and you get a 50% discount at many of the tourist attractions and cable cars if you have it. Definitely worth every cent:)

Dear Europe (Day 1)

I’ve been exceptionally bad at blogging lately.  The fact that i returned home from my holiday 7 weeks ago and still haven’t blogged about it is staring me in the face….hating me.  Also..the fact that I just had to realise it was that long ago makes me sad.  I wish I could go back and remain in a state of permanent relaxed adventuring…wouldn’t it be awesome?

BUT I’ve finally managed to navigate my way through my over 1 700 pictures and narrowed them down to just a few.  Even so the holiday was action packed and I’ve decided to break the trip down into 1 and 2 day posts in order to make it easier to read:) So here we go…Day 1:)

As a lot of you know my cousin’s wedding was the day before I was due to depart on my holiday, and due to a lot of work and a lot of wedding arrangements I wasn’t even halfway packed by the morning of the 11th, the day I was due to leave and I had a house full of guests.  The parentals and my aunt were awesome by making me breakfast, helping to tidy the house and reminding me of small things I would need to remember to pack. And shortly after lunchtime we were on our way to the airport, where i spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around reading and drinking the free wine while feeling super excited.  It should be noted that this is not day 1, this was Day 0:P

The obligatory wing picture...I was told I wasn't officially on holiday until I posted one of these
The obligatory wing picture…I was told I wasn’t officially on holiday until I posted one of these

I landed in Frankfurt on the morning of the 12th (super tired as my superpowers include the ability to NOT be able to sleep on a plane and we had spectacular turbulence for the entire 10 hour flight) where i tried out my broken German on the passport control dude. He pretended to be impressed and waved me through without any issues.  I proceeded to my departure gate for my flight to Zürich and waited.  The time to board arrived and there was no sign of the gate being opened.  I asked around, checked the boards and bugged a number of airport staff, but no one could tell me what happened to my flight. 15minutes before my flight was due to depart they finally figured out that my newly assigned gate was 2km down….I nearly died.  Metal ankle or not, I ran the 2km and was rushed through an already closed door onto my connecting flight.  The fault was entirely that of the airline, to which they admitted and my fellow passengers were only mildly annoyed. Crisis only narrowly averted.

I finally arrived in Zürich and had to wait 2 hours for my various traveling companions to arrive from South Africa and Ireland.  The wait was made more bearable by a bucketload of Starbucks. From there we took a bajillion trains and buses (missing 1 or 2) until we finally arrived at our new home in Emmetten. The one thing that completely astounded me was how incredibly CLEAN everything was.  The train and bus stations were all sparkly and non-foul smelling. Not to mention how beautiful and clean the entire country was. Switzerland had managed to steal my heart within minutes.

SEE??? This is the main train station right by the airport...so clean
SEE??? This is the main train station right by the airport…so clean
Tired happy faces:) Waiting for our train
Tired happy faces:) Waiting for our train
Our first glimpse of the Swiss countryside from the train
Our first glimpse of the Swiss countryside from the train
One of the many little towns where we had to change trains/buses
One of the many little towns where we had to change trains/buses
Emmetten! We finally made it:)
Emmetten! We finally made it:)

After a brisk 1km walk from the train station to our apartment with our suitcases in tow, we refreshed our weary bones with a much-needed shower and headed out in search of dinner and to have a good look around the little town we would be calling home for the next week.  Here are some snapshots of the town…..and guys…it was waaaaay past 8pm, but we were convinced it was like 4pm latest.  The looong summer days really messed with our heads.

The little hotel where we had dinner
The little hotel where we had dinner
The start of a beautiful sunset over Emmetten
The start of a beautiful sunset over Emmetten
The little church...guys seriously..this was like just before 9pm
The little church…guys seriously..this was like just before 9pm
I couldn't get over how incredibly and intensely green everything was...so beautiful
I couldn’t get over how incredibly and intensely green everything was…so beautiful
Sunset over Emmetten
Sunset over Emmetten

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We wined and dined ourselves at the local hotel where NO ONE spoke a word of english.  Let’s just say it was a rather entertaining affair with our bit of broken german and the help of google translate in order to figure out the menu and order. And then it was time for bed, as tomorrow we would be heading off to Zermatt, the home of chocolate mountain, more commonly known as the Matterhorn. (To be continued)

Ruby
xxxx