A Travellerspoint blog

Walking through the Clouds

Visiting Mount Titlis

all seasons in one day
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After Interlaken, my Mom and I travelled East to Luzern (probably seen as Lucerne), Switzerland.

Day 1: Arrive and sight see around town

Luzern is situated around a lake and has a cute medieval feel to it, with cobblestoned lanes and little squares everywhere. The famous Chapel Bridge is the most known site in town. It was built in the 14th century and contains old paintings under the roof.

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Another known site is the Lion Monument. This lion is carved into a cliff and is commemorating the Swiss soldiers who died defending King Louis XVI during the French Revolution.

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My mom and I also went on a Panorama-Yacht tour of the lake and got a nice view of all the mountains in the area.

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Day 2: Mount Titlis

Day 2 in Luzern was very cloudy. Unfortunately, we had no days to spare and had to go up Mount Titlis today. Next time, we are going to leave an open schedule so we can go whenever the weather is right. Just like Jungfrau, even without the perfect weather, you can still appreciate how amazing it is to be on the top of the mountain…and in this case, the journey up to the top was the best part.

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To get to the top there are 4 legs of the trip:

1) Travel from Luzern to Engelberg on train for 1 hour- Mom and I woke up at 5am to check the weather and we saw our best chance was getting on the 1st train out there at 7am
2) A gondola from Engelberg to Trubsee station for 20 min

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3) A cable car to Stand Station for 10 min

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4) Finally…a rotating gondola takes you tothe top at 3028 meters (9,934 feet) for another 10 min. That was the coolest part because you don't have to make sure you are in the right spot to see all the views!

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Titlis is the only glacier in the region that is totally accessible. It was really cool to walk on top of it. The fun part was walking across the 3041 meter (9,977 feet) suspension bridge. It is Europe's highest suspension bridge and the cloudy day actually made it more eerie to walk across. I think we were walking through a cloud and all it looks like is that you are walking into the fog haha!

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Also, funny part is that Indians loveeeee it here! I would say it was about 60% of Indians visiting Mount Titlis. I think one of their movies were filmed here. Mount Titlis even specifically caters for them by having an Indian restaurant up at top!

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That night I had the last Swiss dish on my list: Fondue! We went to the Fondue house and got the full menu. It was awesome! And trust me…it was better than the Melting Pot :-P

I got the 3 course menu:
1) Cheese fondue with potatoes and bread
2) Bourguignonne - it's an oil that comes with beef and chicken with some veggies
3) Chocolate fondue

Mom got the Chinoise (I spelled that right by the way) fondue - it's an Asian meat broth and comes with chicken and beef. After we finished making all the meat, they gave us bowls to have it as soup!

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After being in Switzerland for 5 days, on our last night I finally broke down. I told myself I was going to buy a Swiss army knife because all engineers should have one, but instead…I bought a Swiss watch. Oops!

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Switzerland knows how to get you - so thankfully my Dad and sister weren't there because they are obsessed with watches! Overall, I loved Switzerland - I would love to come back to see the two mountains on clearer days. My only complaint is that this is the most expensive country. My mom and I tried to be cheap one day and went to McDonalds, but after the conversion I realized that we spent $30 for 2 meals! Crazy! But still, I think the food and the views make up for this.

Posted by EscapewithKay 15:23 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Top of Europe

Visiting Mount Jungfrau

all seasons in one day
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From Paris starts the real portion of my time together with my Mom. Our trip was: 2 cities in Switzerland (Interlaken and Luzern); Fussen, Germany; Salzburg, Austria; and Munich, Germany. It was great because my Mom was in charge of this part of the trip so I just sat back and enjoyed.

…except for the first travel day…We took 3 metros and 3 trains and took a total of 10 hours travelling. It was really tiring, especially with our luggage…but the views in Interlaken, Switzerland made up for it all.

View from the train station to our Bed & Breakfast:

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View from our window:

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Everywhere I had been so far was man-made sights: museums, monuments, manicured gardens, etc. Our time in Switzerland, on the other hand, was all God's creation. We were literally in awe at some of the vistas we saw.

Our first night, we tried a traditional Swiss dish: Rosti. It's a German Swiss dish (because Switzerland has mixture of German, French, and Italian) and is a skillet of shredded potatoes with different ingredients. Ours had ham, bacon, tomatoes, and cheese…so it's basically hash browns for dinner, but it's awesome.

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Day 1: Top of Europe

Today we went to Jungfrau, the highest point of Europe. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there so although we left at 9 am, we didn't get there until around noon. Once on the cable car that takes us up to Jungfrau, we had two 5 minute stops for picture taking. Once at Eigerwand (9400 ft)…

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…and another at Eismeer (10368 ft)…

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Then we went up to the top which is 13,642 feet above sea level. It was crazy! We didn't have the best weather so all you see is white around you from the ice/snow, but you can still appreciate how high up you are.

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Our shoes were soaked after the ski bikes, so we made sure to take them off and get a Swiss hot chocolate - sooooo perfect.

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Day 2: Paragliding & Trummelbach Falls
On our 2nd day we had a beautiful morning…a birthday present from my Dad (thanks Dad!) was to go Paragliding. And my mom came with me! It was awesome. We could see the 3 glacier-encrusted mountains: Eiger, Monch and Jungrau. And we could also see the two rivers that Interlaken sits in between (get the name now?): Lakes Thun and Brienz.

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I've gone hangliding before, but it was taken up by a plane, so this was my first time "running off a cliff". When it was time to run my guide, Thimo, told me to just keep running and he'll tell me when to sit. Well…I guess I wasn't running fast enough because he stepped on the back of my shoe and, scared that I was going to lose my shoe, I just sat down…wayyyyy too early. It made the takeoff kind of funny.

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Afterwards we went to the Trummelbach Falls and walked around to the 10 glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain. The falls drain the glacier from the 3 mountains (Eiger, Monch and Jungrau). It's the only glacier-waterfalls in Europe that is inside a mountain and accessible. It was pretty cool….but we got a little wet.

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I would definitely recommend Interlaken if you want a nice little peaceful town and give yourself enough days to wait out any bad days so that you have clear skies when visiting Jungfrau!

Posted by EscapewithKay 13:00 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

"It's okay, I'm in Paris"

My mom's new motto

sunny 70 °F
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My mom arrived in Paris around the same time I did and she had some time on her own to do some sightseeing...but first, she had some difficulty when her luggage was lost. When I found out I thought she would be freaking out (because I would be), but I saw on facebook that she was saying "It's okay, because I'm in Paris". I thought that was pretty awesome.

On my 3rd day in Paris and after I said goodbye to Justin Alex, I finally met up with my Mom. (If you follow my Mom on facebook you know everything I'm going to post for the next couple days but here's a recap anyway haha)

My Mom took me to the Moulin Rouge show on the first night as an early birthday present. Now, I loveeee the musical Moulin Rouge with NIcole Kidman and Christian McGregor (Titi Linda I remember falling in love with this movie because of you) but the show in Paris is not that haha! I knew it was going to be the actual cabaret that the movie is based on and that the dancers were scantily dressed…I actually didn't know that they were going to be topless. Would have been okay if the guy dancers were too, but…sadly, they were not.

I think the coolest act was where this guy would do handstands on blocks of wood and then he would make the blocks higher and less sturdy. It had us on the edge of our seats and I wish I could've taken some pictures.

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Day 4 in Paris:

The next day my Mom and I spent the whole day at Versailles. I recommend just spending the whole day there because there is A LOT to see. Versailles became the political capital of France in 1682 when Louis XIV decided to move from the Louvre to this chateau and he expanded it to reflect his taste and show that he was the "Sun King"

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His bedroom is in the middle of the chateau and faces the gates, along with the rising sun

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All of the rooms were really luxurious. My favorite room was the Hall of Mirrors. It's a room with 17 arches containing 21 mirrors for a total of 357. The room is also filled with chandeliers...I guess it didn't look luxurious enough without them :P

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Versailles:
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After the tour instead, we went to the gardens - which are huge. We got so tired we almost gave up (also there are no working fountains - whyyyy?!). I really liked the Apollo Basin -

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Garden:

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We also went to Marie Antoinette's place, about a 30 minute walk from the chateau. She has this really nice gazebo (is that what this would be?)

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It was a really nice first day of our trip together!

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Posted by EscapewithKay 17:08 Archived in France Comments (1)

City of Light

Paris, France

sunny 70 °F
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Justin Alex and I were able to make it to Paris although all of our trains were cancelled. It was a bit of a headache though because it meant that we had to get on other trains without an assigned seat and play musical chairs…But at least we made it!

Day 1: Arrive in Paris

When Justin Alex and I arrived in Paris we met up with our friend from Georgia Tech, Stefan. After graduating from GT, Stefan moved back to Paris and started an internship there. Luckily, he was able to get some free time a couple of nights and once for lunch!

For our first night, Stefan took us "off the beaten path" to an authentic French restaurant. I tried escargot (snails) and this dish called Cassoulet, it has sausage, duck, beans…and…I'm not really sure what else, but it was great! The sauce the snails was in is actually the best part…so even if you don't want the snails you can at least dip your bread in there :)

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Day 2: Segway Tour, Picnic Lunch, Notre Dame, & Louvre

When convincing Justin Alex to come to Paris with me he gave me 1 stipulation: I had to go on a Segway tour. I honestly have always thought they were corny and everyone looks really silly, but I was so wrong! It was too awesome. The part that made me most nervous was that the company, Fat Tires, hired 2 people to make a new promotional video of the tour and those people just happened to be in our group! Don't worry, when they finish the video I'll post a link so you can see how scared I looked.

Places we visited on our tour:

Ecole Militaire - military training facilities where Napoleon graduated from in 1 year instead of 2

Musee de l'Armee - In front of the museum is Napoleon's cannons that he brought with him to Russia in 1812

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Pont Alexandre III - most elaborately decorated bridge across the Seine and named after the Russian tzar who formed an alliance with France in the late 1800s. This bridge is in the movie Midnight in Paris and a James Bond movie...also an Adele music video haha

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Obelisk of Luxor - In the center of the Place de la Concorde and is older than anything in Paris. This was gifted to France in 1829.

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Eiffel Tower - built for the 1889 World Fair and was actually supposed to be torn down after 20 years. I didn't have time to go up, but my mom did and got some amazing pictures! Apparently, when you go up there is a place where you can vote what the next color of the tower will be - pink currently has the highest number of votes.

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Picnic Lunch: After our Segway tour, Stefan picked us up for a picnic lunch. We got some French bread (amazing), Pate, Foie Gras, Canard Mouse, an unpasteurized cheese, brie, and then Stefan's favorite cheese (can't remember the name, sorry!). We were so lucky that we had a Frenchie (our name for our French friends that went to GT with us) to pick out our cheeses and meats. I think it was the best picnic food of my whole trip.

Afterwards Justin Alex and I walked to the mini statue of liberty since we were so close. Also, I've never been to the one in NY because the line is always ridiculous.

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Random free "gym" next to the statue of liberty:

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Lastly, (yes the day is not over yet!) Justin Alex and I were able to meet up with another friend from GT! Emmanuel, also a Frenchie, was supposed to meet us in Tours, but due to the train strike could only make it to Paris. We were only able to spend the afternoon with him, but it meant a lot that he still tried to meet up with us after all the train problems. We went to Notre Dame and the Louvre together.

Notre Dame - French Gothic cathedral and known for its flying buttresses and large rose petal stained glass window. When I was a kid I loveeed the Hunchback of Notre Dame and even had a poster of it in my room. Funny thing is that I thought the cathedral was just the two towers that you see in the pictures.

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Louvre - This museum is massive. Our tour guide told us that if you just spent 30 seconds at each piece of art, it would take 13 full days (24 hrs) to finish viewing. I also found out that Louis XIV lived here before choosing Versailles as his new home. Justin Alex and I knew that we wouldn't have enough time to go inside, so we just stopped by for a photo op. I'll have to spend a few days here next time.

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We also saw the "famous" lock bridge where lovers place a lock on the bridge and throw away the key. Apparently, right before we got there one of the railings broke from the weight of the locks!

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Day 3: Rodin Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Couer, & Moulin Rouge

Today was me and Justin Alex's last day together so we made it count:

Rodin Museum - most famous Romantic sculptor, August Rodin. You might know him because of his sculptures: "The Thinker", "The Kiss", or the "Gates of Hell". I had fun making Justin Alex pose in front of the sculptures (haha). (And a big thanks to Kelle for the suggestion to visit this museum!)

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Arc de Triomphe - military memorial to honor the French killed during Napoleon's campaigns. There is an eternal flame underneath to mark the tomb of an unknown soldier from WWI.

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Sacre Couer - basilica that stands at the highest point in Paris and is said to be "lily-white". I read that it stays this white from the travertine stone that releases a kind of natural bleach when it gets wet…true story.

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Afterwards we had to say goodbye…it was really hard especially after spending almost every day for 2 years in the lab together. But it was probably the funniest goodbye I had: after saying goodbye I got on the metro and Justin Alex ran after it and banged on the windows like in one of those dramatic movies. Everyone was so confused lol!

Day 4: Night bike tour with Stefan

I'm skipping ahead to the next night so I can write about the time in Versailles with my Mom in another post.

After Versailles, Stefan offered to take me to see the Eiffel Tower at night. Little did I know we were going to ride bikes starting from Notre Dame (which is actually quite far). I was a bit nervous because, even though it was 11:00 at night, there were a lot of cars on the road and I'm not used to biking on the street…or at night…(yes, I'm still a kid lol…). But this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I was able to see a lot of the sights I previously mentioned but at night and truly get the feel for "The City of Lights". It was beautiful.

We went along the Seine River until we saw the Eiffel Tower and then walked up to Trocadero, the best spot for pictures. We made it just in time for the last light show of the tower at 1am. Thanks again for the great tour Stefan! (The pictures of the light show are a bit blurry because I was running out of time haha).

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One last shoutout to Justin Alex, Stefan and Emmanuel for a great time in Paris!

Posted by EscapewithKay 17:08 Archived in France Comments (0)

Our tours from Tours

Loire Valley, France

semi-overcast 65 °F
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From Barcelona the plan was to take a train to meet my friend from Georgia Tech in Toulouse, France. We planned this part together because being both aerospace engineers we were going to go see the Airbus plant (Airbus is the competitor of Boeing - the company I start working for in August) and to [space park name], which is a space amusement park. Talk about a city made just for us to visit! Unfortunately, the SCNF (French trains) were on strike. All of my trains in France were cancelled for the entire week.

I finally got to Toulouse by a 7 hour bus and met up with Justin Alex. Until March, this part of the trip was supposed to be on my own, but after some nudging by myself and my roommate Nathalie, we convinced Justin Alex he needed to go on a trip too! He started off with a trip to Scotland (which he highly recommends so put that on your travel lists!), Ireland, Italy and then met me in France :)

We lost our days in Toulouse due to the train strikes…I guess it just means I'll have to come to come back!

We did have an amazing crepe dinner the night I arrived in Toulouse. Mine had beef, ham, cheese, mushrooms, tomato sauce and an egg…Woah!

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Our next town was Tours, France...a small town in the Loire Valley of France. Our two classmates from Georgia Tech who are from France were supposed to meet us. Unfortunately, also due to the strikes they were never able to make it :( Justin Alex and I had to carry on without them, but don't worry Emmanuel and Clelia, we thought of you the whole time ;)

Day 1: Chateau de Chenonceau & Chateau de Amboise

The Chenonceau was my favorite chateau of the day. It's a chateau that was built and extended over the River Cher so it looks as if it was built on top of a bridge. It's called the Ladies' Chateau because of the royal women that lived there. Henry II gave Diane de Poitiers the chateau and then his widow, Catherine de Medici, moved in after he died (Medici - the ones that ruled Florence! - I'm a nerd so I get really excited when things tie back to what I learned in other cities haha). Justin Alex and I liked the gardens the best here. There is Diane de Poitier's garden with the climbing Iceberg roses on the terrace walls and then on the other side is Catherine De Medici's garden with rose and lavender bushes. It looks like they competed a lot…

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Diane de Poiter's garden:
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Catherine de Medici's garden:

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Our next stop was Chateau de Amboise. During the Renaissance, the king made a palace out of this chateau (Justin Alex and I are still confused the difference between a chateau, castle, palace and fortress…). This was a "kindergarten" for French kings. The most interesting part here was that Leonardo Da Vinci is buried here. In 1516 Leonardo was named the "first painter, engineer and king's architect". He was already 64 then and died 3 years later.

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We also stopped by Leonardo da Vinci's house near the chateau:

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Day 2: Villandry gardens & Chateau Azay-le-Rideau

After doing research I told Justin Alex we HAD to go to Villandry. Built during the Renaissance, the real draw to come here is the gardens. In 1906 the gardens were restored back to how gardens were laid out in France during the Renaissance. It starts with a view of the Ornamental Garden.

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The one with the 4 hearts is "Tender love" - hearts separated by small flames on their sides
The one that looks like clusters of 3 triangle type shapes is "Passionate love" - hearts broken up by passion laid out like they are dancing
There is "Flighty Love" with butterfly wings and "Tragic love" blades of daggers and swords used in duels.

…please let me know if you see any of that, because I couldn't really but it's printed in my guide so I'll believe it :)

The whole garden is really beautiful.

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Our last chateau of the trip was Chateau de Azay le Rideau. This one is also Renaissance style and from one side looks like it is made on the island in the lake.

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Visiting 4 chateaus does get a bit repetitive, but if you want to see how royalty lived I would definitely recommend visiting at least Chenonceau and Villandry. The land is really beautiful. Also, Tours is a really cute town and it was a nice change of pace from the busy cities we were at.

Posted by EscapewithKay 00:50 Archived in France Comments (1)

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