Back to Europe!

I’ll be making the trek back to Europe. Picking up from my last post in the Netherlands, I flew home to Kansas City after a long and delay plagued trip. 
And now 4 months later I’m heading back to Switzerland and Germany. My younger brother will come along this time for the ride, after working and saving his pennies he made from a mildly popular coffee shop (I can’t disclose the name but it rhymes with Starbucks). 

We depart Chicago O’Hare on Tuesday December 21st and arrive to Zurich the next day. My friend Philipp will grab us up and we can spend the afternoon taking in sights of the beautiful town. 

The stay is going to be 3 weeks. Visiting Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and Austria.  We’ll try to post as much as we can here so you can keep up. 

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The Netherlands

A few days after hiking the Seealp, we drove north. The further north we drove through Germany, the flatter the terrain became. 

Eventually we found ourselves in a place even flatter than Kansas: Holland. 

Holland is famous for it’s Windmill Houses.  But far more numerous were modern Wind Turbines. The country just loves windmills even today I guess. Also, the cities in the Netherlands are quite famous for their canals. This town, Dokkum, had perfectly picturesque Dutch style archetecture framed with tree lined canals.  So much charm and character!In the rural areas is where you see how incredible flat this place is.  Most of the area is at or below sealevel! 

The day after we arrived we went up to Harlingen. A costal city full of sailboats and shops.  It borders the North Sea.  We had miniature Dutch pancakes call Poffetjes.  

North Sea 

The Netherlands was a great experience. It’s like nothing else in the rest of Europe. Huge, wide and flat. But full of things to see and do!

Seeaplsee 

One Sunday morning we traveled to the Alps in Switzerland for a hike! The views were breathtaking. 

On the road there they came closer and closer into view. 

The Seeaplsee is south of St. Gallen and East of Lichtenstein, in the Appenzell District. 

“See” in German means Lake. The Seealpsee has a valley with a small lake in the center, thus it is the “Lakealp Lake” (Reduntant much?). 

The path was fairly steep in two spots but eventually, after a little under an hour, we arrived at the valley. 

The water was perfectly clear. Deeper in the valley you can see a few houses. They had shops that sold fresh milk and cheese. 

​Here we had a fresh milkshake and picked up some cheese to have with our BBQ by the lake. 

Now I’ve seen the Seealpsee, you see?


Next: The opposite of the Alps, Netherlands. 

Münich

After a cold and wet morning of traveling and visiting the Neuschwanstein castle, we finally arrived in Münich.  München (in German) is the Capital of the State of Bavaria. 

In the Marienplatz sits the magnificent new town hall. This place is MASSIVE. Also quite new in the world of European buildings as it was completed in 1909. 
The Marienplatz is full of people coming and going to work and the shops. The whole city center shopping area is a pedestrian only zone.  Packed with stores and boutiques, there are thousands of people at a time shuffling in and out of checkout lines. 

Some of the stores were extremely fancy and palacial. This one had 4 stories, grand chandeliers and a grand staircase carpeted in thick red carpet.  Impressive!

This is the old townhall, also on the Marienplatz. And old it is with records dating back to 1394 over 600 years ago! Still looking quite fresh for it’s age. 

After a full afternoon of touring the City Center and shops we headed for the metro that will take us back to our hotel. 

I had often seen photos of this very futuristic station but wasn’t sure where it was located in Germany. I was pleasantly surprised when the metro stopped and I caught sight of the orange tiles. 

It was built from 1966 to 1971. Completed in time for he 1972 Olympic Games in Münich. 

Speaking of Olympics, the next day we drove to the Olympiapark.  This is the location of the the Stadiums and arenas used in 1972. Also home to the Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower).  This tower to the top of the antenna is 292m (955ft). It features an open air deck that you can walk out on some 200m (656ft) in the air. The elevator travels at 7m per second!!


The curvature of the earth can be seen! The views are stunning. And also very cold and windy.  

Munich bird’s eye view. 

Our other highlight of the day was the BMW World and Museum. Just across the street from the Olympiapark is the Welt (world-on the left) and the BMW 4-Cylinder tower and BMW Bowl Musem (on the right). 

The archetecture again is mind blowing! The BMW Welt is so huge! And the older BMW buildings are equally as impressive.  

The museum was hosting a special 100 years exhibit. Featuring some of their most important works. 

Here is the 1972 BMW Turbo Concept. Designed by Paul Bracq for the Olympic Games. It was a precursor to the 1990’s BMW M1. 

Munich is definitely worth a visit. Beautiful archetecture, friendly people and plenty to do. I loved it. 

Bavaria


Our first stop in Bavaria was the beautiful Neuschwanstein castle.  In English it’s “New Swanstone Castle”


This castle is in the Bavarian Alps. It was built by King Ludwig II. It was constructed in 1886. Though it’s by no means the oldest castle in Germany it one of the most dramatic. 


Majestically perched on a hill it overlooks the villages and towns below. It’s been used in several movies and is one of the most famous landmarks in Bavaria. 


There is an older castle which belonged to Ludwig’s Parents in which he was born. The Hohenschwangau Castle is slightly smaller but equally as beautiful.

Very impressive structures. 


Next stop, Müchen! Capital of Bavaria. 

Lausanne & Chillon

After our stay in France, the group headed back into Switzerland towards Lausanne where a friend there wanted to show us around.  Lausanne is the Olympic Capital, as the Olympic Comittee is headquartered there. 

The city began as an Roman military camp in the 2nd Century A.D. on the shores of Lake Geneva.  However eventually the city moved further up the hill for better protection. 

This is the museum and where the parliament of the city meets.  It’s very beautiful and palacial. Everything you touch is solid stone. 

It had a grand entrance staircase leading off into different wings of the building. 

As old as this place is, it’s quite young in comparison to:

The Cathédrale Protestente Notre-Dame de Lausanne, or Protestant Cathedral. 

This huge church is nearly 800 years old. Built in 1235 in a very gothic fashion it’s almost unreal to behold. 

Mind boggling archetecture. And also holding some of the best views of the city. For a fee (naturally), we were allowed to climb a seemingly endless number of spiral steps to the very top of the building. 

Views all around for miles. You can see Lake Geneva in the misty horizon.

After the tour we walked through the snaking city streets much of which were built in the medieval eras.  Lausanne is a French speaking Swiss city, so there was plenty of time to work on your “Merci’s”.

It’s also very hilly as you see here.

The city is extremely green too. With lush foresty parks and lawns.

This is a courthouse for the state. 

As old as the city is, in many ways it’s very futuristic. It’s the smallest city to have a mass transit metro system. The trains are driverless and careful thought goes into how they can build lines without deforesting even 3 or 4 trees. 
One of the oldest cities in Europe is building the future. This section of the town is full of modernist buildings and plazas. 

After a great home cooked meal we started off for our next stop, Château de Chillon. 

Sitting on the lake of Geneva, the Château de Chillon was built to control a road from Burgundy to the Great St. Benard Pass. It’s oldest parts date from 1005. It was a summer home of the Counts of Savoy. And in 1248 Peter II expanded the castle. 


Massive imposing walls. The Counts who stayed here used to keep a fleet of ships on the Lake of Geneva. 

The History of Switzerland never ceases to amaze me. 

Suddenly, France!

Well what a beautiful weekend in Gex, France and Geneva, Switzerland. The French countryside is exactly how you imagine it. Super quaint and charming. 

We could see the Alps almost everywhere. Including the Mont Blanc. So gorgeous. 

We stayed at a nice modern hotel in Gex. A beautiful little French town buzzing with life. Only about 30 minute drive from Geneva Switzerland this is a great place to stay price-wise as its way more affordable than Geneva. 

Our first meal was had at the Hotel Bellevue. It was Wienerschnitzel, Potato Gratin and Green Beans. We had Apricot Pie for dinner, all and all it was really classy and a great first experience in France for me. 

In Geneva we went to pick up a friend who arrived by bus. We saw the Jet d’Eau, a fountain that blasts 1,800 gallons of water up 450 feet in the air! Really amazing. It uses 1 Megawatt of electricity to power this fountain. 
The second day was the pièce de résistance!  We drove from our hotel up about 30mins into the mountains. And arrived at an Inn called Le Florimont. I had one of the best meals ever here. A chicken in gravy dish. Fresh Salad, Pinot Noir and Creme Brûlée for dessert. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.  Surrounded by awesome friends and food and….

THIS VIEW:


This is the alps. Also you can see the Lake of Geneva and the little French towns on the countryside right in front of the restuarant.  Just perfect!


Chicken in a brown Gravy with freshly cooked seasonal veggies. The taste was so fresh and delicious and home-cooked.

After dinner and dessert we stepped out on the balcony and were treated to quite a show:


Alpenglühen “Glowing Alps”. When the evening sun sets on Mont Blanc and turns it bright pink and orange – a breathtaking view. Especially for someone born and raised in Kansas where mountains are forever away. Really a beautiful close to the day. 

The third evening we spent in Gex finished with a pizza from a pizzeria in the town center. The 2016 European football championship is being held in France, so after the pizza we headed back to our hotel and watched the match France vs. Portugal. It was really neat to be in France during the championship. Everyone here was so happy that their beloved team was playing in their home country.

Everyone gathered around the outdoor TV to watch and cheer them on. 
So now with quick stop in Iceland, a week in Switzerland and France I’m up to 3 European countries..France having the most natural beauty. 

“Vive Le France” 

So my next stop, Lausanne Switzerland! 

Arrived! Zürich, Switzerland.


Zürich. 

Tuesday afternoon, after 3 flights and 3 airports, I finally arrived at the Zürich Airport. It’s a huge place bustling with people, cars and planes only a little ways from Downtown Zürich. 

After clearing up a small mishap with my checked in luggage (it was left behind in Reykjavik, Iceland) and a short drive, we made a short tour of the city center. I’m still fascinated by how old the buildings are and how beautiful they are.  The city is a mix of old time cobblestone streets and modern busy boulevards. Being a pedestrian is a little daunting because the people here drive very fast and very close to eachother. 

I was explained by my friend that walking across the street is done by making eye contact with the drivers and making sure they see you. I never walked out in front of so many moving cars in my life. But they won’t stop until you do-or at least you hope. 

My first meal here in Europe was at a little Turkish restaurant. We had what is called a durum (basically a Turkish take on the burrito). It has thinly sliced meat, some rice and lettuce, onion and a sauce I could only describe as BigMac sauce but spicy and amazing.  The restaurant had a garden courtyard area to eat. And the weather was a perfect sunny, 78 degrees with a cool breeze. I couldn’t ask for a better day to start my trip. 

After lunch we strolled around to the Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street). The people there had money beyond belief. All the high end stores you could think of, they had on this street. Along with more Bentley’s, Audi’s, Range Rover’s and exotic sports cars than you could count. But the really cool thing about this place is the archetecture. Being from the USA where everything is new compared to the age of some of the midieval squares and houses, I was just in awe. 

Limmat River

Our next area to visit was the Limmat River. It ran through the middle of the city center and leads to the “See” or lake. This lake had promenades on both sides with docks for your sailboat and even some paddle boats you could rent. It was just beautiful. 

We got a Swiss branded Icecream mixed with different things like hazelnuts or fruits and walked down the promenade.

I heard some music playing and saw that there was a one-man-band. He had drums on his back, a stringed instrument (like a banjo of sorts) in his arms and a megaphone where he performed an interesting cover of “I will survive”.  The best part is that there was a sign behind him that said “what some people do for money…”

One-Man-Band

Among all of the beautiful places in the city center, I found the Opernhaus (Opera house) to be especially eye catching.  With a large plaza in front and a very palacial appearance, it made for a perfect photo opportunity.  

Opernhaus 

I’m so looking forward to the next city on our list, Geneva!

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One week to go…

In 7 days I’ll be shuffling through the lines at Chicago’s O’hare airport and boarding my Airplane to Europe. 

Today I’m lying around thinking about everything needed to be done before I leave like cleaning the house, mowing the grass getting a haircut and of course packing. It’ll be a crazy week but I hope it goes fast. 

My itinerary will be:

  • Chicago 7:30pm to Reykjavik 6:35am
  • 45min plane change
  • Reykjavik 7:20am to Zurich 1:00pm

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Welcome! My first post :D

I love to visit new places, meet new people and see new things. I also wanted a way to document my travel and found that carrying a notebook and pen was a joke.  I decided to give a blog a try, and I’m excited for what might turn out.

My next journey is to Europe.  I’ve never been overseas before, but it’s always been a goal of mine to make it there.  Well finally in July of 2016 I’ll be there. I’ll be starting in Switzerland, and visiting a few other countries while I’m there.  Saying that I’m excited is an understatement…the past 8 months have finally passed and in a few weeks I’ll be ready to fly!

Hope you enjoy the ride with me and the stories I share. Also check out my Instagram page for more pictures of my trip, follow me: @streusy