We got some time in at Maroon Bells before the government shutdown – thankfully. What a terrible time of year for the national parks to be closed. For those who have not made it to see the leaves changing, here are some photos from our trip. Maybe these will inspire you to get up to the mountains for a peek before winter lays its heavy blankets of snow…
My good friend Sarah and I took a spur-the-moment trip to Oregon last weekend. During our adventure we visited Cannon Beach, a beautiful coastal town with vast beaches and rock formations towering above the ocean.
I call this post “The extras at Cannon Beach”, because in reality we are all just extras in someone else’s life story…
The warm weather is finally coming out to play and it’s making me want to go to the beach… Since I can’t yet I took some shots of a conch shell that my family brought back from the Cayman Islands years ago, and a vile of sand and baby shells that my boyfriend brought home for me from his recent trip to Jamaica. :)
To all my Living Lightly followers… I haven’t posted recently because I have been working on a new project. After recent revelations about my health and my future, I’ve decided to start a new blog. I encourage you all to check it out and follow me there if you wish! And don’t worry, Living Lightly is not going anywhere. :)
Here’s the link:
I recently bought a new macro lens. After doing so I realized that I had no idea how to shoot macro photos. It’s not as easy as pointing the lens at your subject and clicking a button. There’s a lot more thought required.
I had two sources of inspiration for purchasing the lens. My main inspiration is my love of plants, and my desire to capture their most delicate details. The second inspiration comes from another blogger, Neely Wang, who shares her macro shots every Monday.
Recently she was kind enough to share 10 tips for shooting these up-close-and-personal pictures…
Here’s my first go at it:
Home-made pizza hits the spot every time. Especially if you’re a once-per-week dairy eater…
I’m doing this post a little backwards because I really had this pizza in Rome, not Milan. I actually didn’t like Milan much at all. If you followed me during my travels you already know that. If not, you can read my very disgruntled post here.
I know I vowed to cook a meal from each city I visited, but I just couldn’t grasp the idea of reliving my experience there – so I’m pretending that I ate this pizza in Milan and not Rome. Anyway, the pizza actually turned out fantastic. It had so much flavor and the cheese was super creamy. I think it even made me associate a new memory with Milan, a good one. Oh the joy of food…
This week’s post was a bit of a challenge, but me-oh-my it was delicious!
When Taylor and I were in Venice we literally got lost trying to find a restaurant someone from back home told us about. “A hidden gem with melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi.”
Making this meal at home was quite a workload, but it was worth it. If you have time on your hands I suggest giving it a try. If not, at least make this bruschetta recipe! It’s easy, flavorful and a crowd pleaser!
A Florence-inspired dinner for four…
This week I’m excited to share some tasty recipes courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis. I didn’t have a lot of time to experiment because of the holidays, so I took a shot at some of her recipes.
Benvenuto alla cena Roma!
Greece offered some pretty fantastic cuisine but it only got better as we moved our way along the map to Rome. Italian food holds a special place in my heart. Although I don’t choose it most days out of the week (I’m a Mexican food junkie), I do love the culture and the language.
In college I studied Italian from an adorable little woman with a thick accent from the town of Bari, Italy. She described Bari as this beautiful and tiny place on the southeast coast of Italy with amazing food and rich traditions. She’d often bring in Italian breads like panettone and serve it to us with Nutella. YUM. She was a great teacher – although she would probably cringe at my little “welcome” note above.
Even though I did not have the chance to visit Bari while I was in Italy, I did visit four other Italian cities and thoroughly enjoyed them. With that said, there will be a lot of Italian recipes to come in the next few weeks – meaning a lot of carbs and a lot of wine! Haha.
Primo piatto: Prosciutto e melone
To those of you who are thinking, “What the heck woman you said you don’t eat meat!”
Well, I don’t! Except tonight… and that one night in Rome. Actually, being a pescatarian in Europe was a difficult task and I managed to do it the entire time – thank you very much! I had to try it just once. Fellow vegetarians, I apologize, but it is pretty tasty once a year!
Secondo piatto: Risotto con gamberi e zucca
Okay, I’ve got some explaining to do regarding my lack of posts!
Simply put – Balancing a full-time job, moving into a new apartment, evenings and weekends dedicated to Taekwondo classes, and a new man.
Oh, and a lack of inspiration – sorry but it’s hard to compare “real-life” to three months in Europe! Don’t hate. I promise to be better.
I know, I know… Those aren’t good excuses – or are they? (That’s a teaser to get you to read more… and this is a random image of my adorable pup.)
So I haven’t posted in a long time! A lot has been happening! I’m preparing for a new wave of posts… Since I haven’t been traveling they will be other exciting things – like how I decorated my new apartment with all my treasures from Europe!
Anyway, as I was preparing a new post I came across this “draft”. Turns out I never shared the pictures from my visit to Rome. There are a ton of pictures here, out-of-order, and w/out captions. For that I apologize but I think leaving it up to your imagination is fun too! Enjoy!
My visit to Edinburgh, Scotland, was short but sweet. I wish I could have ventured out and seen some of its countryside but oh well, I will just have to go back! Here are a few shots I was able to get during my visit…
One of the best parts of visiting a new country is exploring the countryside. Visiting the outskirts of the city certainly has a way of demanding your undivided attention. It is there, in my opinion, that you see what is truly beautiful about a country and its culture.
Can you tell that I am super excited?! Well, I am. A couple of weeks ago I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award and I was smitten then… Now I have been nominated by Agujas for the Versatile Blogger Award!! (Yes I am tooting my horn a bit, heh heh.) It’s just so awesome to know that people are not only reading what I have to say, but enjoying it too. Thank you Agujas for the nomination!
Okay, so, here’s what a VBA recipient must do:
Seven random things:
All of the above are a great mixture of inspirational, travel, photography and just plain lively blogs. I love them all! Thank you again Agujas and my readers! =)
This was not my first rendezvous in London but it was still as amazing as the first. This city is very special to me as it was my first European city to visit back in 2007. My mother, sister and I went for spring break. It was my first year away at college and it was such a special treat for my mom to insist that the three of us girls get together and do something special. At the time her cancer had just returned and I think she knew that it may be the last time we could all get out as a family.
Below is a mixture of photos – some nostalgic and some from my recent trip with Taylor. Consider it a tribute to my mother, for it was her that gave me the itch to travel and see the world, to seize the moment and to cherish time spent with loved ones.
I am feeling particularly lovely today because I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you paperballpotluck for your generous words and the nomination! I’m psyched to know that my words, experiences and photography have influenced others to be spontaneous and positive! :D Continue reading
Amsterdam is just one of those places that everyone should visit. I felt right at home there surrounded by water, unique buildings, cyclists, vegetation, art, food, friendly people, public transportation, etc. I love the Dam!
The train ride from Budapest to Prague is seven hours! In my journal on the train I wrote, “Hungry! Hot! Yuck! But so lucky!”
And, lucky I am. Prague is, “Romantic! Beautiful! Historic!” I instantly fell in love with this city, which was not something I expected for the Czech Republic.
Can I first say that my recent experience being “freshly pressed” on WordPress has totally changed everything? I’m so extremely psyched on all of the support and wonderful comments I received on my San Francisco post. Big thanks to all of you who “liked”, commented, criticized, and decided to follow – you’re the best! Continue reading
I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in San Francisco, California. I’ve done a lot of traveling in the last six months, from all over Europe to the east and west coasts of the U.S., and I have to say that San Francisco is still one of my favorite cities I’ve been to. Continue reading
When I was originally thinking about backpacking in European countries like Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic the words “advanced” or “sustainable” didn’t exactly flash through my mind.
To my surprise I was very wrong.
Once again I had public transportation at my fingertips, the ability to rent a bicycle, and convenient fresh produce, cheese, bread, meat, fish, wine, etc. Everywhere I looked I saw species of plants I never knew existed, hundreds of trees at least five times my age, fields of open space, and century-old buildings.
Reflecting on my travels through Vienna, Budapest and Prague got me thinking… I believe the U.S. has put itself on a pedestal. We think we are making large strides with our new sustainability programs at universities, wind turbine farms, organic supermarkets, hybrid vehicles, and the list goes on and on.
I’m not trying to be pessimistic, I’m glad that we are making progress, but we are so far behind. People in Europe do all of the above as a part of their daily routine, it’s second nature. They have farmers markets the size of malls, literally. They don’t have to have expensive ad campaigns convincing their citizens to simply recycle.
More ice shelves are breaking off, politicians are still doing whatever they can to make a dime, families are buying bigger homes with water-sucking swimming pools, and scientists are developing advanced fertilizers and pesticides that will most likely result in a highly resistant super bug or a new strain of cancer.
For those of you who think that climate change won’t have an effect on you in your lifetime, think again. It is now. It is in the food you are eating, the air you are breathing, the waste piling up in your garage, and the everyday things you are consuming.
In my recent posts I have been very excited about the eco-friendly things I have come across while traveling Europe, but now as I am sitting on a train staring out the window at field after field of land so green I don’t think there’s a name for its color, I’ve realized… Although on the land there is livestock, roaming free and healthy, eating what they are supposed to eat, and above the livestock there are hundreds of wind turbines, we are still battling climate change and it is going to take a hell of a lot more than recycling, bike riding, and wind turbines to solve our environmental issues.
Sept. 24 – Today is our 45th day of traveling. Packing up every three days and moving on to a new city has been so exhausting. Sometimes we are super psyched so it doesn’t matter, but it’s always a bummer to leave a city you really enjoyed, like Munich.
We are on our way to Vienna Austria today and I am so excited because when we arrive Sarah should be waiting for us. I was a little worried considering our lack of communication with her the past few days but my worries ceased when we were bombarded with hugs by her the second we stepped onto Vienna’s train station platform.
We took today pretty easy. Sarah had bad sushi in the airport and Taylor was hung over from Oktoberfest so we were pretty worthless. Luckily we found our place without any issues and were blessed because it is absolutely adorable, and big.
While we were in town we just walked around aimlessly. It was great. Sometimes the best plans are no plans at all. We took a lot of pictures of buildings like the famous Opera House. Vienna is known for its composers and musicians. In front of the Opera House we also saw a man playing his cello – I absolutely love the cello.
Another perk of the night, 3.50 Euro Chinese from a street cart that was actually really good.
Sept. 25 – Long story short: Today was awesome.
We even did a tour of its catacombs, which housed the coffins of fallen royalty, and also hundreds of jars filled with their organs. Apparently, the churches would separate the organs of the dead, priests included, because they would fight over what churches could house them. So basically all of dead were separated into jars and spread across Vienna, because of an argument. Quite funny. Also inside were 30 rooms and two stories of skeleton bones. Not nicely stacked like in Paris, but thrown down a shoot by prisoners. Why? Because the plague was wiping out the population too quickly to burry them. Scary.
Across the street from Stephansdom we enjoyed a nice tip from the Lonely Planet and indulged in Manner cookies, and lots of them.
As if we hadn’t already had enough sweets, we took another tip from Lonely Planet and went to the famous Café Sacher next to the State Opera House (beautiful, btw). The Sacher’s world-famous chocolate cake was heavenly. Apparently the recipe is locked up somewhere safe and is only known to the chefs themselves. Pretty cool.
Sept. 26 – Last day in Vienna… sad day. We took the metro to Herrengasse where we, or at least I, were very excited to see Café Central. On our way to the famous Café we stopped in a little Tibetan store and each bought some very funky, very authentic jewelry. The shop was filled to the brim with amazing treasures. When I am rich I shall return and clean the joint out.
Anyway, besides the snobby waiters, Café Central was amazing. It looked like the inside of a fancy hotel, with classical music playing and a certain ambiance that made me feel underdressed. This is the coffee shop where Freud and Beethoven would muster up their brilliance after all (est. in 1876). I had a “Mother Theresa” coffee: espresso with orange liqueur and whipped cream on top.
In the afternoon we visited the Schonbrunn Palace, Marie Antoinette’s home when she was growing up. The tour was very interesting and the gardens were beautiful, however it was nothing like Versailles.
Dinner was a mess. We took the U-Bahn all the way out to the edges of Vienna to eat at a curry joint called Stomach, only to find it was closed. Just before passing out from lack of food we made it to a Vapiano’s, a pleasingly delicious Italian restaurant. I enjoyed Thai/Italian pasta with salmon, mangos, ginger and chives. Why can’t we have delicious food like this in Colorado??
Out of all my previously visited countries I have to say that Germany is up there in the top three… so far.
Munich | Oktoberfest
Taylor and I were thrilled with our visit to Munich. Not only were we lucky enough to be there for the famous Oktoberfest, but we had lovely hosts as well. We booked our stay through AirBnB and ended up with an adorable couple who treated us so kindly.
Oktoberfest was unreal. I brought my camera but could barely focus on taking pictures (thank you Taylor for many of the shots in this post). I was deeply worried about Taylor’s camera… She has dropped her phone and digital camera, each separately, in a beer or wine cup on numerous occasions. This time the beers were actually big enough that dropping her Canon Rebel into one was possible. It didn’t happen though, thank goodness.
I’m not sure exactly how many people were at the festival on that given day, but it was ridiculous. I’m talking shoulder to shoulder, drunk people in costumes, young kids, old men, loud and screaming people, etc. We actually made it into one of the beer tents but were unable to get a table. That didn’t matter much to me; I was enjoying a super-sized pretzel with my super-sized beer watching all of the drunk people stand on tables and sing classic bar songs like Sweet Caroline. Awesome.
When we finally were able to get seats in a bier garten Taylor ordered a half a chicken. Literally. I didn’t eat it; I just kept munching on my pretzel. We enjoyed small talk with a few people at the table until a group of drunk, married, old Italian men sat down. Little did they know I could kind-of understand them. For the hell of it I tried to carry on a conversation with one, until he started speaking English and made me look like a fool. Sigh.
Besides spending one full day at Oktoberfest we were also able to visit Dachau, a concentration camp memorial site. Some of the things we saw there were disturbing, and when the church bells sounded at 3 pm in memory of the murdered Jews I was overwhelmed by goosebumps and tears. This was just a fraction of what I ended up feeling during our explorations of the Holocaust sites in Berlin though.
I love German pretzels.
It would simply be too complicated to explain my adventure in Paris in great detail. There’s just too much to say…
I could ramble on about walking its romantic sidewalks, enjoying crepes filled with Nutella, spending hours buying vintage pieces on the Port de Arts, exploring the Eiffel Tower by day and night, getting lost in its subway system, squeezing through crowds to see the tiny but beautiful Mona Lisa, and going deep underground to walk the mysterious Catacombs, but I feel my words would not do the city justice.
My Grandma told me that if she wished to see any European city, it would be Paris. So Grandma, this is for you: An experience simply told best through a camera lens.
I have now had a firsthand experience of a month’s worth of sustainability examples throughout the entire southern part of Europe, with the exception of Spain.
I have to say that my eyes have glazed over to the sights of cyclists, bike lanes, bike rentals, Vespas, and waste-specific dumpsters. They are just so common.
As I was searching desperately for something new to share about how sustainable Spain is compared to the rest of the world, or at least the U.S., I missed something that was right under my nose… The art of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural genius in Barcelona.
Park Guell, no doubt my favorite place in Spain, is one of Gaudi’s more famous architectural works, after La Sagrada Familia of course. Park Guell was built between 1900 and 1914 by Gaudi’s direction. He not once used a blueprint plan, he simply mimicked nature and it’s tendencies.
Gaudi was brilliant not only for using biomimicry, but also for using what was convenient. He used anything he could from rocks and stones to ceramics, and turned them into incredible spirals and mosaics, not once using a straight line.
Using only a model to aid construction Gaudi built these buildings as if they were creatures themselves. They have spines inspired by pythons, gills for breathing (to aid temperature flow), skylights that magically sneak into every room, chimneys that reach to the sky but are never seen, and decorations made from the most beautiful ceramics.
These days there are architects out there studying how to build sustainable buildings and thinking they are on the wave of this new and exciting idea. Well, news flash, it’s no new idea. Gaudi began this movement long before any of us even dubbed the term sustainability and he did it without technology. My mind is blown away by his work and its mysterious beauty.
Moving on to one other amazing thing I experienced while in Barcelona… Food Markets! And not your average Joe market either. Bustling markets filled with every fruit, vegetable, meat, fish, wine, cheese, dessert, bread, pastry, chocolate, candy, etc. You name it, it’s there.
Barcelona is famous for its market, St. Josep La Boqueria. I didn’t actually eat anything there because I was too overwhelmed. I walked around the large building for about 25 minutes with my eyes wide and an “Oooh,” and “Ahhh,” sneaking out on every turn.
When we made it to Madrid, a city much more centralized and just as authentic, I was ready for my second chance at this market business. And oh, did I go to town. Sangria, homemade chips, fresh frozen yogurt with berries, a Bailey’s Irish creme cake, and all of their deliciousness located in one place… the Mercado de San Miguel.
If you had one day in Madrid what would you do?
Well, if you’re me or Taylor, you eat… and that is exactly what we did!We took the subway into the city to see the traditional tourist attractions like the famous Plaza Mayor where bull fights and executions were commonly held. There were some interesting entertainers and mimes there, along with a group of drunken Irish football fans… classic.
Our highlight in the Plaza was by far our bocadillo con calamares though. (Yes you spanish speakers, a fried calamari sandwich!) Our lovely host in Barcelona told us not to miss out on this classic, and strictly local, favorite.
Luckily, my pescetarian diet kept me away from most of the foods inside this market but heaven forbid, not the sweets! We ate soft serve yogurt with berries from la Yogurteria… A Bailey’s Irish Cream Cake… And then had homemade mm’Patatas and sangria from the Sherry Corner…
So… if anyone needs tips on traveling in Madrid I’m not the person to ask, however if you need advice on where to eat, I’m your gal! And if you somehow end up with leftovers, as we did, there are plenty of gypsies waiting outside the market to take them off you hands. Taylor though, my wonderful friend that she is, gave our leftovers to a man who genuinely looked hungry and was ecstatic to receive them. :)
Instead of writing the “Must-See’s” or “Best Eats” for Barcelona (because there are just too many) I’ve written somewhat of a day-to-day account of our Spanish adventure. Here it is…
Day 29: Woke up on the overnight train from Switzerland that was three hours late, making our total train ride 15 hours long. Not only were we late, but we slept next to a very stinky bathroom, had no air conditioning and I had a pretty nasty case of nausea. Despite this, when we finally arrived in Barcelona we stumbled upon the Alsur Cafe, and it was there where we tackled our first and best round of Spanish tapas!
Day 30: Besides more fabulous tapas, our highlight of today was visiting La Sagrada Familia. The church definitely has a curious design and feel to it, which is understandable since construction began in 1882 and is still unfinished. I can’t say it is one of my favorite architectural pieces, however once inside it is hard not to stare up in awe at its towering ceilings and vibrant stained glass.
Day 31: Today was “Day One” of my sickness, a cold. Not a huge deal to some people but an unpleasant one when your plans include excessive walking, 100+ temperatures and delicious tapas requiring fully active taste buds.
We slept in today hoping to regain some strength, we’ve officially been on our backpacking trip for a month now and the heat is starting to tear us down. It doesn’t help that we have lingering bug bites from Italy, a stiff board for a bed, and a host with three active-at-night cats. Who am I to complain though, I’m in frickin’ Spain!
#1 Highlight of the day ~ Lunch at Tantarantana. Their patatas bravas baked under Gruyere cheese make me never want to be a vegan again. And holy cow – Eggplant lightly battered and fried in a honey-lime sauce? TO DIE FOR! Not only did we relish in those two scrumptious treats but we also split a fresh herb salad topped with seared ahi and avocado. Are we spoiled? I think so.
#2 Highlight of the day ~ The Picasso Museum. After seeing boatloads of Italian paintings, sculptures, etc., Picasso’s work was undeniably refreshing. I’ve never been much of an art connoisseur, however, his work inspires me to be. I know now that I am a modern art fan, no doubt about it. My favorite pieces of his are from his Las Meninas collection.
Day 32: Sick day #2. Gah. We slept in again. The heat is killer here, worse than Arizona that’s for sure. We had lunch at a weird little organic market today. It was cute but also gross, we both had organic burgers (mine veggie) and they weren’t so great. Oh well! After my nasty veggie burger in Florence and now this, I think I’ve learned my lesson. (Europe doesn’t do vegetarian.)
Lonely Planet has officially let me down! It told us to go see La Rambla, “Spain’s most famous boulevard.” Here’s my advice to you, don’t go. Unless you like overcrowded sidewalks, pickpocket masterminds, hacklers, and tourist booths (with all the same sh*t), I would keep those few hours for something more worthwhile… Like St. Joseph’s La Bouqueria – now that’s a good time! Imagine a farmer’s market in the States… now put it on steroids, fill it with fresh organic produce, fish, meats, candies, wines, you name it: That’s St. Joseph’s. AMAZING.
After wasting our time on La Rambla we continued on to some more Lonely Planet recommendations. Luckily we weren’t let down by these, but then again how could Gaudi let anyone down?!
Passeig de Gracias – In my tiny travel notebook I wrote, “Beautiful, odd, exciting.” Enough said.
Day 33: We deserved a lazy day, especially since I am still sick! It didn’t start out lazy though. A couple days ago we passed a restaurant we thought looked good, so we searched, and searched, and searched for it today. When we finally found it we ordered tapas, which turned out to be the tiniest most boring tapas ever. Plus we sat next to a table of Australian girls who would not shut up about their crazy night they had and they like used the word like, like a hundred like times! Phew, that was even hard to type! Anyway, we had to get a second lunch – pizza bread, meh.
Laziness was finally accomplished after a grueling, sweaty, long walk to the beach. We spent the afternoon laying out, checking out the naked ladies (NOT, they were all old), and eating delicious nachos at a beach bar. Oh, and while we were eating these nachos we saw a man, older, walking around, in the nude, completely, without a care. I was not appalled but happy; why is it that women are always the naked ones, and the ones with half-naked commercials on TV?
After the beach we took walked that long walk home, with a pit stop at a pharmacy, damn you cold.
Day 34: Man we have been in Barcelona a long time! I will be surprised if anyone is even still reading this. Anyway, today was my favorite day. My meds kicked in and we had an exciting adventure to Park Guell – another Gaudi masterpiece. Actually, a masterpiece is an understatement.
When I think back on Park Guell I think of the wild parrots I saw, twice; the gorgeous hibiscus garden where I spread some of my Momma’s ashes; the endless paths made of rocks, twigs, stones; the mosaics, oh the mosaics; and the most incredible view of Barcelona.
Day 35: Did you know there are two train stations in Barcelona? Well, we didn’t. I have to tell this story just for the hell of it. Taylor and I got lost WALKING on our way to the train station with our 40+ pound packs on our backs and 100+ temperatures, still. We were lost forever, and running late so by the time we got to the train station we were drenched, basically running, legs burning, oh the agony, and we had 10 minutes to spare… Only to find out we went to the wrong train station!! ;D
As any environmental steward would expect, Switzerland was filled with the most eco-friendly characteristics, even in its small city of Bern.
Bern proves that a city does not have to be bustling and crowded to deserve a public transportation system, and that a Metro or subway is also unnecessary. For Bern, carbon neutral buses, light rails, trams, and high speed trains do just fine.
If public transportation just isn’t the thing for you, no worries. Bern is bike friendly… and not bike friendly like many cities claim to be, but literally. Every street has a bike lane. Every sidewalk has a bike rack. Even the streets have bike lights… Yes, stop lights for cyclists.
Even those who decide to drive in Bern have the option to be sustainable. Alternative forms of fuel are not uncommon and are even advertised.
In the city there is no wasted space. Backyards with playhouse mansions and pools? I don’t think so… Try urban farms and rooftop gardens. It would actually be unusual if you passed a home that did not have some kind of farm on the property. Whether it’s herbs, produce or goats, they’re everywhere.
And of course, farmers markets with the freshest produce, strong smelling cheeses and vibrant colored flowers flourish in Bern.
For those who are passionate about the environment and in need of some hope for our earth’s future, visit Switzerland.
– Gothic Munster: My second favorite church on my journey through Europe! With the tallest spire in all of Switzerland and a 15th century build, I was awestruck. The cathedral has exciting gothic traits like goblins and ghouls, and the most beautiful attention to detail in its ceiling and in every column, window and organ. I especially loved its outdated and carefully crafted benches and choir stalls.
– The Fountains: Throughout the cobblestone streets of Bern there are 11 historic fountains, each of which is enchanting in it’s own way. My favorite is the Kindlifresserbrunnen, or “The Ogre Fountain”.
– Einstein Haus: This is the sight where Einstein developed his remarkable theory of relativity in 1905. Unfortunately we didn’t make it inside the Einstein Haus but, considering my regret for not going, I would recommend it to anyone.
– Gurten: After a long and unnecessary hike, Taylor and I reached the Gurten path to lead us to the top of Bern’s Mount Gurten. We didn’t expect that our walk to the Gurten base would take as long as it did (there are trams, whoops!) but we made it. From there we decided to opt out of the Gurten train to the peak, and hike. We did after all get warmed up already. Unfortunately for us the path was under construction so we only made it halfway up the mountain, but the workout and the view were worth it!
– Munster Cathedral Terrace: We found this terrace by accident and man am I glad we did! Right behind the Munster Cathedral is this spectacular terrace filled with old chestnut trees, and overlooking the Aare River and the red rooftops of Bern.
– Interlaken: After a nice referral from one of our hosts at the hostel we spent a pretty penny and made a day trip to Interlaken Switzerland to see the Alps. Our train from Bern to this small mountain town was more than incredible. While sipping on a coffee and a delicious bagel I stared out the window at white sailboats on aqua blue water reflecting a backdrop of lush green Swiss mountains-how could a breakfast get any better than that?
When we arrived we explored the small town, did some grocery shopping and had an adorable little picnic on an abandoned, foilage-covered dock by the water with a view of the “trio of peaks” in front of us. Absolute perfection!
-Swiss Picnic: Continuing where I left off, our picnic. This was, of course, my favorite meal. How can one deny French wine in a travel-sized bottle, fresh smoked salmon, juicy grapes, fluffy cheese spread, crackers and Toblerone chocolate? Especially with such a beautiful view (and a beautiful price)!
Eating on a Budget…
– Kappa Take-Away: It always seems to be the case that the best foods are the ones that are found in the alleyways with the cheapest deals. In Switzerland Kappa Take-Away filled that profile. With our cheapest eat of seven francs, or $9.59, we had a delicious oversized falafel pita filled with fresh cut carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, hummus and chili sauce. Yummy!
– Waffle King: I never thought I could fall in love with a waffle. Yes I’ve had them on Sunday brunches and occasionally at restaurants but I’ve never loved a waffle like I loved this one. This caramel syrup drenched-crispy on the outside-soft on the inside-I didn’t believe in heaven but I do now treat, was a delight that will be circling in puffy white clouds above my head while I sleep for years to come.
– Laderach: To me Laderach, a “chocolatier suisse”, takes the idea of Swiss chocolate to a whole new level. I can’t deny my love for Toblerone but I must say, “Well done Laderach!” Taylor and I stumbled into this store with wide eyes and hungry hearts, I don’t know who wouldn’t with a window display like that though.
We each partook in a Swiss chocolate adventure, I spent a considerable amount of francs on a white chocolate brick filled with candied oranges, pistachios, and roasted and caramelised almonds, and another brick of Swiss dark chocolate with an entire florentine bar. I have to be honest, I don’t regret that purchase at all! ;)
– BB is no doubt my favorite hostel on my trip thus far. Fully equipped with all the essentials for a backpacker… working internet, a large common room, a helpful and friendly staff, affordable washers AND dryers, and most importantly clean rooms and bathrooms with working lockers. Oh the joy!
Just across Bern’s Lorrainebrucke Bridge is the city’s Botanischer Garten’s, which is located on a piece of land greater than two hectares and harboring of over 6,000 different plant species.
Now given the fact that plants, especially trees and flowers, excite me in a way that is very uncommon than most people, I can confidently say that had an amazing time there.
In my previous posts I have simply stated great places to visit and provided a few pictures but that is just impossible here… I took an excessive amount of pictures and enjoyed every second of it. For my fellow foliage freaks, here they are:
I LOVE NATURE, IT’S INCREDIBLE!!!
Despite some foul smells and some questionable plumbing I think we Americans can learn a lot from the Italians. For example, it is completely unnecessary to own a dryer. I mean seriously how lazy can we be? We already drive everywhere and have as many cars as we do family members, we eat like there will be famine tomorrow, and we use an excessive amount of technology… So why own a dryer?
I have learned while traveling that Americans are spoiled. Yes, I have complained that my clothes take twice as long to dry here but so what? Why complain? I’m saving energy and therefore valuable resources, which helps save our planet (and money).
And why is it that we have to have these gigantic put-you-out-of-business companies on every street corner? What happened to fresh produce from a pesticide-free farmer at a booth on the sidewalk? Italy still has them and let me tell you, I have never tasted fruit so juicy and fresh…
And as far as waste is concerned, America is not as clever as it thinks with its reduce, reuse, recycle babble. Italy has been doing this much longer and much more efficiently. On any given street there are dumpsters (with the exception of Venice) where you have to divide up your recyclables.
With that said, Italy, although not as technologically advanced, is “greener” than America and undeniably less lazy.
My only complaint is that Italians smoke cigarettes as if their life depended on it. They smoke at breakfast, with their coffee, before, during and after lunch, at dinner at the dinner table, and at dessert. I would be surprised if I made it through a meal without getting a secondhand buzz from my neighbor. I guess we all have our flaws…
I don’t appreciate the way you treated me while I visited. It seemed as though you tried in every way possible to push my buttons. You messed with my money, sent mosquitoes to me to suck my blood, screwed up my train schedule therefore outing me more money, overcharged me for food, took my internet away and my phone minutes, poured on me the one time I had no umbrella, stole away my chance to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and you didn’t allow me to sleep.
Although I am angry and will never return, at least you had a few good things to offer…
Duomo di Milano…
– Gorgeous gothic cathedral, actually the largest in Italia.
– The cathedral took six centuries to build and if you go inside you will understand why.
– Here are some pictures to show you!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II…
– I’m not big into designer brands but it’s definitely the place to buy a Prada or Gucci bag!
– Located to the left of the Duomo.
The Teatro alla Scala…
– The famous opera house designed and constructed in 1778 by Giuseppe Piermarini.
– Located just at the end of the Emanuele.
– Viewing gallery for seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting.
– Be sure to make reservations at least a month in advance!
NEXT STOP: Bern, Switzerland (thank goodness!)