Nice and Monaco

If most of you were like me, you read this post’s title as it is spelled, as in a word that means sweet, cool, polite, etc. However, as I was disappointed to find out, I was not visiting “Nice” I was visiting a city, which in English is pronounced “Niece.” Nice would be my last visit to France, and my last trip before my final flight back to St. Louis.

Nice is a beach city in France; it is only a 45 minute flight away from Geneva, including take off and landing, and that is about the extent that I knew of the trip we were taking.

We left Thursday night after our classes were done and landed in Nice just in time for a dinner by the beach.  We had been warned, although we found out for ourselves pretty quickly, that this beautiful beach town comes with its fair share of creepy guys, so after dinner, we found ourselves huddled away in our hostel until our early start the next morning.

Our first stop that morning was the beach.  I insisted on finding a place to buy sunscreen (which turned out to be pharmacies only).  It was ridiculously expensive, obviously, because this is a beach town and it is pretty much guaranteed that people who visit here will be coming to the beach.  I had a huge bottle of sunscreen back in Geneva, too, but the problem with huge bottles is they cannot be taken on airplanes.  No one else got sunscreen because they “didn’t need it” and “don’t burn.”  I lathered up on sunscreen only once, except for my face which I sun-screened in semi-compulsive frequencies, and luckily that was all I needed.  Four hours later, the rest of the gang decided they had gotten just enough sun and it was time to head on to our next destination.

I’m going to skip ahead for a second to the later part of the night where everyone was as red as a cherry and complaining about their fried skin.  I sat silently and did not mention the part of our day where they made fun of me for putting on sunscreen, I figured I was silently getting my revenge.  (I actually did miss a couple spots when putting on sunscreen and let me tell you, they are not pretty.  Very, very happy with my expensive designer French sunscreen purchase.)

I didn’t bring my camera to the beach, for obvious reasons, but we did end up making a quick stop there before leaving, so pictures of that are to come later in the story.

That night we got (slightly) dressed up and left the country of France.  We were only a 30 minute (and one Euro!) trip away from Monaco, the second smallest, and most densely populated country of the world. Our view from the bus looked something like this:

While the others I went with made a game out of boasting about our “fancy dinner” in Monaco, I will not try and deceive.  We stopped for dinner at a really high class McDonald’s with a balcony over the sea.

No golden arches in sight, perhaps they are embarrassed to have an American creation living in such a classy country.

Unfortunately, Monaco wasn’t looking its usual self this weekend.  The Grand Prix motor race is held in Monaco next weekend.  The cars in the Grand Prix race in the streets and the whole town becomes a race track.  Naturally, stands have to be built.

After dinner, we took a little stroll over to one of the most famous casinos in the world, Monte Carlo Casino.  It just so happens that the gambling age in Monaco is 18, and we would be fools to be dressed nicely and standing in front of this world-famous casino and not go inside.  With not one but two bouncers at the door, we were nervous about getting turned away, but we strutted through the door with confidence and they greeted us with a “Bonsoir mesdames” and we made our way inside.

We had to pay an entrance fee to get inside, which did nothing for us besides get us past the third bouncer.  We didn’t even get our 10 Euros entrance fee in credits to play the games.  It was just lost money.  With how beautiful this building was, it was well worth the expense. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed inside (I wasn’t even allowed to carry it with me, I had to check it at the coat check in!) We stood in the lobby in awe of the room that stood before us.  A man to the left of us was saying something in French, and eventually one of the girls translated, “he says we should go this way.” With that, the man heard we spoke English and began to talk to us in a language we all understood: “This side is free, that side you paid for.  You choose. I suggest that one.” He ripped our tickets and we walked through the doorway he was guarding to even more breathtakingly beautiful rooms with elegant statues, amazingly detailed paintings, and million dollar chandeliers galore.

We took the grand tour of the place before sitting down to play some slot machines.  I told myself I would only spend ten more Euros (isn’t that what they always say?) So I put 10 Euros in a machine, it printed me out my “credits” receipt, and I started to play.  I was down to a little over one Euro left, about to watch all my money washed down the drains of their expensive wall fountains when I found my first relief.  Eight Euros! I was encouraged to stop playing, quit now before I lose it all, but I was in Monte Carlo.  I didn’t want to play it safe my first night in a Casino, and I justified it by telling myself that I wasted more money on that sunscreen earlier that morning than I was going to at this Casino.  I sat down at a machine called “Old Money” and tried my luck.  After a few rounds, I found myself with a credits receipt that read “22,34 €!” I was satisfied with my win, I made back all my money that I spent at the casino, and paid for my entrance fee, plus enough extra to get me back to Nice.

It was then that I found out Erin had just scored 55 Euros.  With two winners in the group, we were feeling lucky and the two of us made our rounds one last time.  I found myself down again to 17 Euros (whoops) and, despite what the frugal ones of the group were telling me, decided to go back for one more round of “Old Money.”

I was victorious and walked away with 35 Euros, making a profit on my first night at the slot machines.  Monte Carlo, you were too good to me.

We headed back to Nice, fought our way through the creepy guys (picture, if you will, the type of men you see in the Jersey Shore), and fell fast asleep in our hostel.

The next day consisted of me and my roommate venturing out on our own (we only stayed until Saturday, the rest of them were staying later, but I do go to school while I’m here and I have a paper to write before Thursday, so it was time to say goodbye.)

One of the things me and my roommate have in common is we both love to stand on the top of the city, so our goal for the day was to climb.

As promised, we took one last trip to the beach, running all through town to get there.

Annecy

This weekend’s adventure was a day trip to a (somewhat) small city in France, Annecy.  This town promised to have the authentic French feel to it.  Lots of old buildings, no one speaking English (almost true), and lots of beautiful canals weaving through the city, the Venice of France.

It was a quick, easy bus ride.  About an hour and a half.  We didn’t get checked for passports because of the open-boarder policy between France and Switzerland.  Just hop on the bus and go.  It was well worth the trip and I would definitely recommend this beautiful city to any of you who make the venture out to Europe, especially in the summer-time (lucky for us, it was 80 degrees today!)

This one was funny:  There were lots of swans on the lake (p.s. we went paddle boating on said lake, so much fun!) and I started taking pictures of them.  One swan did not like that I was doing that, so he swam right over and wanted to show me who was boss.  He swam right up to the edge of the dock and stared me down.  I snapped one quick picture and got out of there as fast as I could.  As soon as I moved, of course he swam ahead to join his group.  He was not too happy with me, but I’m glad I got the photo. (Notice how clear the water is, that sand you are seeing in the picture was about two feet under the water.  It was so pretty!)

In the park next to the lake, they had bike rentals for kids.  The bikes looked something like this:

They had a big cage of every kind of bird you can imagine in the center of town.  This Peacock was desperately, and unsuccessfully, trying to impress his lady.

 

Fribourg

After my busy, busy weekend, I still had one more trip I had to take.  My Swiss pass was expiring, but I was exhausted.  I decided to pick a city that was close by so I would not spend my whole day on my feet again. I headed to Fribourg, it is just across the lake from Geneva, about an hour and a half by train. It wasn’t my first choice of Swiss cities to see, but it was the closest on my list by a solid 2 hours.  So Fribourg it was.

My guide book said that Fribourg was a mix between old-town, downtown, and college town; it said the city had an interesting feel to it.  I would definitely agree.  Like many Swiss cities, old town was my favorite. It was almost completely empty when I went to explore, which was really out of the ordinary from the busy Swiss towns I am used to. Of course, like all real old-towns, this one had a huge cathedral, too.

This next picture may look a little bit familiar to you from my post about Basel almost a month ago.  In Fribourg there is another Jean Tinguely fountain, one of these fancy little mechanical fountains that spit water everywhere.  Very fun to watch.  This one was much smaller than the one in Basel, so it did not take up as much of my time.

Once I was done with the fountain, I had planned to go to another city on my pass, but I was too dang exhausted, so I just went home.  Fribourg: complete.

Paris

Now that I have finished touring eastern Europe, it was time to spread my travels to the west.  Paris was, of course, an obvious choice.  Oddly enough, it was not my first choice of places to visit, but like many adventures I have taken, the opportunity arose, so I took it.  I would say without hesitation that I am really glad that I made it there, even just for a day; it was a beautiful city.

Our metro stop we got off at to enter the City of Paris (our plane landed right outside of Paris) was called Notre Dame.  With most metro routes, when it says a monument in the stop name, that usually means its somewhere near by.  In this instance, it was literally the first thing you could see exiting the metro…and yet I some how missed it until we were sitting in the cafe eating breakfast.

Directly behind Notre Dame there was a lesser-known attraction, The Lock Bridge.  This bridge is…a bunch of locks attached to a bridge.  The idea behind it is that you make a wish, lock your lock, and then throw the key into the river.  I have heard a few different takes on what is actually supposed to happen beyond that.  Some say you’re supposed to throw all keys into the water, some say you’re supposed to throw one away and keep one to return and unlock your lock when the wish comes true.  I have also heard an entirely different story involving two lovebirds.  Couples write their names on the lock and then lock it to a bridge.  I’m not sure if they make a wish, nor am I certain of what they do with their keys.  People seemed to be doing a lot of whatever seemed significant to them.  Of course I was a sucker tourist and bought a lock of my own and locked it to the bridge forever.  I decided to go the route of keeping one of my keys.

This was as close as I got to the Mona Lisa.  We didn’t go inside the Louvre simply because we had no time.  I have been told on countless occasions since arriving to Geneva that it might be tempting to make the Mona Lisa a priority on a list of things to do in Paris, but I was also warned of the complete disappointment I would feel if I waited in line for a few hours and then saw that, quite unlike how it has been portrayed since Mona Lisa made her Big-Screen debut, the painting was only about the size of a postcard.

The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur was one of the furthest-from-the-center destinations that we visited, but the long metro ride, and even longer climb up the many, many stairs to reach the hill it sat on was worth it.  From the top, we got the most magnificent view of the city (image below).  Not to mention the inside of the Basilica was absolutely stunning; I completely understand why they did not allow photos to be taken inside.

As you can probably note from all of the previous photos, the sky doesn’t look too great.  And the second we stepped out of Sacré-Cœur, it began to rain.  Lucky for us, we had what can only be described as a “tourist market” only a block away.  So we spent the next hour hoping from shop to shop eating French food and doing French gift-shopping, but we began to realize that the rain did not want to stop, and we had to continue on our way.

The next stop was a famous-people cemetery, which I seem to magnetize towards no matter the city nor the famous person. We stopped by to see Georges Méliès, director from the good ol’ silent film era, recently featured in that new movie Hugo which won a whole bunch of Oscars (put that one on your list).  Also Oscar Wilde, writer.  He is for some reason commemorated with lip-stick kisses on his grave stone.  People also write messages to him.  It has recently been surrounded by glass with not one but two notifications that his grave marker had to be restored due to this “vandalism.”  Once in 1992, and again in 2011.  I can only imagine what the grave must have looked like before it was restored the first time, as I am sure it was not surrounded by glass the whole time it was there.

At this point, the weather still had not turned around, so we stopped at another cafe to get some snacks.  Nadja, one of the girls I went with, decided she was brave enough to try escargot. She says she quite enjoyed the taste and was happy she tried this French food while in France.  She could only describe it as “like…slimy meat.” I’ll pass.

The rain stopped and we headed once again on our way to more tourist attractions.  We climbed in the metro and got horribly lost and ended up not being able to find the Eiffel Tower.

…just kidding.

And of course we went up inside the tower to look down at the city below.  I only made it up to the second floor because I did not schedule my time right (too many pictures on the first and second floor, did not leave enough time for the top) and we had to leave to catch our plane back to Geneva.

Krakow and Budapest

I am going to start this post with a bit of a warning, the photographs that you will encounter may disturb you.  I ask that, after you finish reading the next paragraph, if you feel you do not wish to continue, you wait for the next post and skip this one entirely.

I received a letter from my amazing friend Hannah just a few days after arriving in Geneva.  In her letter she wrote, and I quote: “Here’s what I want for you: Enjoy every minute you are there, make lots of friends, do crazy things you might not be able to do again, take lots and lots of pictures.” I took her advice to heart and really thought about what she said.  I think I interpreted her letter in a bit of a different way than she intended, but I decided to do something crazy that I probably won’t ever be able to do again: I spent way more money than I should have on a trip that I now believe everyone should take in their life time.  I went to Poland to visit Auschwitz.

The tour we took included two different camps of Auschwitz, Auschwitz I, the original, and Auschwitz II- Birkenau (there is also a third camp that was not included in the tour).  I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Nazis blew up the gas chambers to destroy evidence.

We also got the chance to tour the city of Krakow while we were there.

These are broken headstones from a Jewish cemetery that were broken by the Nazis.  They were later turned into a mosaic.

Another Castle! No pictures allowed inside.

Pretzel stands on every block.

We also had a very, very short amount of time in Budapest.  They had these big beautiful buildings, but unfortunately, they didn’t take care of them very well.  Here’s just a peak of what the city looked like.  I didn’t take very many pictures while I was there, I was taking a day off from being a tourist.

Praha a Turnov

I was taught this weekend to call the city I visited “Praha” instead of “Prague” as a way to fool people into thinking I was from the Czech Republic.  The only problem with that is I couldn’t even try to understand Czech.  It was so different from any language I had ever heard before.  But, by the end of my weekend stay there, I managed to turn what originally sounded like complete and udder gibberish into words that sounded like words…but I couldn’t understand the words because they were Czech. A bit of an improvement I guess.

I had more of a mission this weekend than simply to go and see the city.  This weekend’s only purpose was to go and see this:

This is the lovely do-not-photograph-me Jana.  For those of you who do not know her, she was an exchange student at my high school senior year.  Almost immediately after turning in my final forms for studying abroad, I started making plans to visit her.  And lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait too long, because it just happened to be the first international trip I would take while I was here.

This statue was supposedly lucky. Make a wish and rub the dog and it would come true.  I wasn’t able to fight through the crowd and take a picture of my own hand touching the statue, but I did manage to take a picture of this random guy’s hand touching it, for display purposes only.  Jana and her friends were standing a minimum of 10 feet away from me as I took a lot of these pictures, because I was making them look like tourists, so they were not around to assist me in taking the photo.

This building doesn’t look too interesting, but the story behind it is incredible (and not necessarily in a good way.) This is the Old-New Synagogue and it is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe.  It was built sometime in the 13th century and is still running to this day.  We went on a walking tour of Prague, which is where this was shown to us.  Our tour guide explained the history of the neighborhood, and upon introducing this Synagogue, a guy in our tour group raised his hand and asked “How did it survive World War Two?” “An excellent question, I was just getting to that.”  Our tour guide then explained a horrific story of how the entire town was to be preserved as it was (unlike most Jewish neighborhoods, which were destroyed) and this Synagogue, along with some other buildings of the area, was under the protection of Hitler himself.  He ordered that none of it be destroyed.  His intention was to use this neighborhood as a Museum-Monument commemorating a dead religion.  Obviously, he was not successful in this attempt, and the Jewish people returned to this neighborhood of Prague to restore their buildings and this Synagogue to what it was before the S.S. invasion.

While we’re talking history lessons, I’ll jump to this story.  At the top of the hill in this photo, you will see a giant red bar.  That red bar is part of a giant Metronome that ticks back and forth every day except the day that I am in Prague. But it’s ticking isn’t really an important detail to this story. The S.S. troops were removed from Prague by Soviet troops, and within a few years, Communism took over the area.  From my understanding, Prague did not take well to communism, and there were often revolts.  A giant statue of Joseph Stalin was built on the top of this hill to watch over the city of Prague (and probably to remind them that he was in charge, not the revolution against him).  It was the tallest statue of Stalin in all of Europe and was destroyed in the 1960’s.  This area stood empty until 1991 when the metronome was built.  The tour guide said it was symbolic of (I will absolutely not get his wording right on this) time ticking forward and moving on to the future of a new Prague.

Last history lesson of the post.  This astrological clock was built in Prague’s town square a really, really long time ago (obviously I can not remember exactly when).  The story goes that the man who built this clock was shortly after blinded by some citizens of Prague because they believed that Prague should be the only place in the world to have a clock like this one to set them apart from everyone else.  The newly-blinded creator sought out his revenge by climbing his way up the clock tower, pulling out a piece of the clock, and destroying it.  It would be hundreds of years before anyone would figure out how to fix the clock.

That night we took the bus to Turnov, Jana’s home town and I got the chance to spend Sunday with her and her family.  For a change, I got to be the “visitor” instead of the “tourist.”  Because I was not being the tourist, I did not take any pictures of my time in Turnov (that, and it was raining every time we went outside).

Miss Me?

I would like to be able to say that I haven’t been blogging recently because I’ve just been so terribly busy traveling.  Unfortunately, quite the opposite is true.  I didn’t travel anywhere over Easter weekend for fear of everything being closed.  I took the time to go walking around Geneva a bit.  I stumbled upon a flea market (and for as high-class as Geneva is, there was a lot of junk at this flea market, even by our American standards).  On our way back from the flea market, also happened to stumble upon something else…

Central Perk! We wanted to go inside and sit on their big comfy couches and drink cappuccinos out of big, mismatching coffee mugs, just like on Friends.  Their menu was posted on the door, and to our complete disgust, it was not a coffee shop at all, but rather a pizza place.  I understand that there are many more coffee shops in Geneva than there are pizza places.  But why would anyone waste the good name of Central Perk on pizza? As soon as we found out we wouldn’t be sitting on their couches (what couches!? they didn’t even have any) drinking large cups of coffee, we turned right around and went back to the dorms.

On Monday, me and my Swiss Traveling side-kick Meghan were supposed to go to Lucern.  But plans changed so I had the whole day to do whatever.  I was not going to waste another day sitting inside doing homework (despite popular belief, I do go to school while I’m here) and watching television. I decided I would cross another place off the Geneva List.

The place of the day was the Saint Pierre Cathedral.

For only four francs, we could purchase a ticket that allowed us admission into the towers of the Cathedral as well.  I was told that it was well worth the price, so I bought my ticket and went on up.

The stairs in these towers were small and steep

Some of the stairwells were so narrow that only one person could go up or down them at one time, so they had signs directing people as to when they were safe to begin their hike up or down.

Right as I was about to leave the Cathedral, I saw a sign pointing to my left that was for the Chapel of the Maccabees.  I walked in through the doorway and this sign was sitting directly in front of me.  I stopped to read it before exploring.

I did not even glance away from this sign as I walked in and read it.  When I turned around, my jaw dropped.

Training is Over

All of the trips I took with Meghan this weekend seemed to be just a “practice round” for the adventure I went on yesterday, but obviously, I can’t start this story at the end, so you’re just going to have to wait.

Like all other adventures to come before, the traveling duo of Meghan and Kelly left again at the ripe hour of 6:28 a.m. to hop on our train to Montreux.  Montreux is only right across the lake from Geneva (that would be Lake Geneva) but because we chose to travel by train instead of boat (not sure a boat would have been any faster anyways) we had to go all the way around the lake, and in turn had another hour and a half train ride.

When we got to Montreux, we discovered it was not quite like the rest of Switzerland we have seen.  They were not early risers in Montreux.  Nothing opened until 9:00, and unfortunately, we arrived at 8:20.  The goal of the day was to see the Castle in Montreux (also did not open until 9), so we slowly walked the edge of the lake, making our way towards our destinations, taking pictures of the flowers and mountains…and Freddie Mercury.

Even after excessive Googling, I’m not entirely sure why there is a statue of Freddie Mercury front and center on the main dock of Montreux; but I was able to find out that the first Saturday of September is “Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day.”  All you Queen fans out there know where you should be on September 1st.

We found our way over to the Castle and thanks to my Swiss Pass, I got in for free! (I don’t think I can bring myself to use my last day of travel on this Swiss pass next week, I get half price “additional tickets” and free admission to every Switzerland Museum under the sun.  I don’t want this to ever be done!)

The Castle had a mote!  This is the first Castle I had ever seen in person, and the fact that there was actually a mote on this Castle made me even more excited to see the inside.

I always had this image in my head where, once you would walk into the front door of a Castle, you would be immediately standing in front of a giant stair case, with a dining room on your left and an extravagant sitting room to your right.  When we walked in and all I saw was a court yard, I couldn’t help but feel confused. “Where the heck is the house part!?”

The first room we managed to stumble upon was Ye Ol’ Royal Wine Cellar.  The barrels actually had wine in them, and you could try this royal wine for yourself for the small fee of 40 Francs per bottle, no individual glasses sold. This entire wing of the castle smelt of wine and, had the set up been the same in the days of yore, I’m sure the scent of the wine cellar was torturous to the starving prisoners kept in the very next room.

This (as Meghan taught me) is where they burned witches.

We did eventually find the “house part” of the castle.  Most of it was replaced by artifacts recovered from the area and placed into specific rooms that said “this is where _____ would have been.” Nothing too interesting to photograph, but definitely something interesting to visit.

Much like our adventure in Zürich, we had another stop in mind while we were in Montreux.  We wanted to visit the church on the top of the hill and look down at the town.  But, as you’ll remember, sometimes the things we want to find just cannot be found.  In the case of the church, we could see the steeple from a mile away, but even with our map, we could not figure out how to get to it.  We remembered our experience on Saturday, and quickly gave up on reaching the church.  Some attractions are meant to be unseen, it would seem.

I did not use my Swiss Pass to get to Montreux (the Swiss Pass that I bought entitles me to three, non consecutive days of travel anywhere in Switzerland) and neither did Meghan.  I purchased a half priced ticket (the perks of a Swiss Pass!) and Meghan had something a little bit different.  She was using an exclusive type of Swiss Pass that are only sold to the Swiss.  A friend of hers bought it for her.  Not only is it good for unlimited travel, but it is also good for unlimited metro, and it is half the price of a “tourist” Day Pass.  Unfortunately for Meghan, you must plan well in advance the date that the pass will be used on, and she ended up having a test in her Monday night class.  Fortunately for me, that meant that I got to use the pass. (Don’t worry, we ended up splitting the cost. But I know I still got the better deal.  Here’s where the story really begins…)

This entire weekend has been me following Meghan around as she quickly navigated the train system, leaving me in a daze. But as Meghan went back to class, and handed over her Day Pass, I was on my own to explore the entire country of Switzerland (acquiring the pass was a very last minute thing, my options were go by myself or not go, and I was not going to waste such a great opportunity).  Meghan had suggested the idea of me taking the Swiss Pass the night before, so I only had a few hours to plan where I wanted to go, how to get there, and still sleep in time for our early morning trip to Montreux (the same trip as above…I jumped a little bit out of order to add this little element of surprise.)

I wanted to make sure I got the most out of this pass, so I chose a location I wanted to go that, without this pass, I probably would not be able to afford to go.  I very quickly settled on Zermatt. A regular priced ticket to Zermatt runs at about 190 Francs; my half of the ticket I split with Meghan cost me 19 Francs.  I would only get to spend a couple of hours in Zermatt, but for the price, it was worth it.

I was not thinking this as I neared the second hour of my four-hour-one-way trip to Zermatt. Alone. No one to keep me company but the book I brought with me. It was a long trip.

As we got further and further away from the city, my opinion started to change.

As we got closer and closer to our destination I started to play a game with myself that I like to call “NO!-That-One’s-the-Matterhorn!”  The game goes something like this:  Every time I saw a big mountain, I assumed it was the Matterhorn…until I saw a bigger one.  Turns out that none of them were the Matterhorn and I wouldn’t actually see the Matterhorn until I walked quite a ways through Zermatt (the pains of being short; having the view of one of the tallest mountains in the Alps be blocked by a few meager buildings).

This town thrives off of its tourism.  They really take pride in having the clear skies required to see their main attraction, so no gasoline-powered cars are allowed anywhere near the city.  Electric-powered trains, cars, and buses only.  The image above is an example of a truck that was probably used to bring in supplies from “the outside world.”

These are also allowed.

It was so strange being able to walk in the streets without fear of being run over.  And there was something really peaceful about having 20 electric vehicles and a few buggies in the entire city, than there being hundreds of cars piled up at intersections trying to return from the ski lifts to the hotels.

Almost all of the houses (at least the ones in the older part of town) were built on stilts.  I was not sure why the whole time I was there, but it was the first thing I looked up upon returning to Geneva.  Apparently, the houses are built on stilts to keep the rats out.  Yuck.  Not quite the answer I was looking for, but interesting nonetheless.

By this point in the story, I was still playing the “NO!-That-One’s-the-Matterhorn!” game. But it wasn’t until after I found old town that I finally won the game.

“No! That one is the Matterhorn!”

Right after seeing the Matterhorn, I headed over to the Matterhorn Cemetery, where climbers who died while climbing the mountain were buried.  It was incredibly sad.  These two were the only two I saw in English.

I attempted to tour the Matterhorn Museum (for free!) but was turned away because I came too close to closing.  It closed at 7, I arrived at 6:15. I needed to be there at least an hour in advance.  I suppose it was a good thing I was turned away, because that gave me some time to eat before heading back to Geneva.  I stopped at a place called Stephanie’s Creperie.  I ate the most delicious crepe: applesauce and cinnamon. (I promise, it wasn’t as gray as it is in this picture; it was getting dark outside.  The crepe looked and tasted delicious.)

After eating my crepe, I hopped on my train and successfully made it back before my carriage turned into a pumpkin (or before the Swiss Pass expired at midnight).

Zermatt has been my favorite city by far.  I am so sad that I only got to spend a couple of hours there, but I am so glad that I took the trip out there.

Willkommen to the First Most Expensive City in the World…

I was more than disappointed when I discovered that the only place I was visiting during this term that was more expensive than Geneva, just so happened to be Zürich, stop number three on my weekend in Switzerland.  (PROOF)

 

 

 

 

 

Zürich had a flower clock similar to Geneva’s…but Geneva’s was way nicer.

And finally, one last photo for the Helmke family.  I couldn’t seem to find the actual Helmhaus, but this is a picture of Hotel Helmhaus.  Made me think of you guys.

If you were wondering why there doesn’t seem to be as many pictures from yesterday, well I’ll tell you why…

The one and only thing I wanted to do while I was in Zürich was to visit the Lindt Chocolate Factory. I have heard only good things about it (…free admission, free chocolate samples, extremely discounted take-home chocolate. What more could you ask for!?) We decided in Zürich that we would do the same as in Basel and Bern, walk everywhere. We didn’t really know where the Lindt factory was (all my stories of mistakes seem to start like this, don’t they?) but we knew where the street was, and we had a map, so we figured we could find it.  Well, we walked up Seestrasse and down Seestrasse (strasse, we found out after our long journey of walking, means Street in German) looking for number 204, but no luck had befallen us (and despite what I have heard about “being able to smell the chocolate a mile away,” you could not.) We walked in all directions (literally) looking for Seestrasse.  I even have a friend here at Webster-Geneva that lives in Zürich, so I called him and asked him how to get there.  He promised me I was in the right spot.  The only advice he could give me was “Look for a HUGE factory. With gold bunnies in the front lawn!” Thanks, Inigo, I had no idea I would be looking for a giant factory.  After 2 and a half hours of walking around Seestrasse, and asking 3 people for directions (this is no exaggeration) we decided to call it quits on our search for Lindt and head back into town.  On our long walk back (we walked through a neighborhood that was about 20 minutes outside of Zürich to try to find this factory) we saw not one but two Gold Lindt Bunny cars drive by us.  Meghan and I exchanged looks, debating if we should chase after them, as they drove off in the opposite direction.  While the victory of finding the factory would have made the day a success, we decided that we were much too tired to continue to chase around after this factory, and we soon after returned to Geneva.  Maybe I will return back to Zürich some day soon and attempt once again to find the factory, but at the current moment, I don’t even want to look at a delicious Lindt truffle again.