Friday, October 29, 2010


Bruges / Brussels

I’m beginning to feel quite proud of my travel skills. Prior to this trip I was feeling the old pre-trip anxieties that used to have me second guess how important traveling is to me. Even this morning as I was walking to the train station, at 4:30am, I was still a little anxious. However, now that I’ve made it to the airport, in plenty of time and am now waiting for my flight to Copenhagen, I feel empowered. As lame as it sounds I almost feel like this trip is my “coming of age” trip. I’m learning how to travel by myself and am relying on any life skills I may have picked up along the way. So far it’s going quite well.

After leaving Geneva at 6:50am (I prefer to take really early flights so that I can sleep on the plane, get there when things are open and the sun is out), arriving in Brussels at 8am, taking a train to the city at 9:15, then taking a train to Bruges at 10:24 I finally arrived in Bruges at 11:30am. As most travelers will tell you, the thing that takes up the most time is traveling itself. I now had the rest of the day to discover the medieval city. After dropping my luggage off at my hostel I went to grab lunch. I found a cozy burger place and got a burger and fries. Belgium is actually where fries originated. They call them french fries because of the way they’re cut (same with french cut green beans). They were decent but I’ve had better.

After getting the key to my room I then spent the rest of the afternoon walking as much of the city as I could. I walked around most of the canals and the outskirts of the city. I got to see the canal that surrounds the city and some of the windmills that are next to it. I even walked down the main shopping street and didn’t buy anything! Huge success! I grabbed a tea and waffle for dinner at a cute tea room. Then I went back to my hostel and spent a lovely evening avec moi and went to bed early.

The next morning I woke up early and had breakfast at my hostel before returning to the train station to go to Brussels. I was fortunate enough to grab a train right when I got to the station! An hour later and I was back in the Capital of Europe. I went right to my hostel and once again dropped off my luggage. Then I commenced on the longest walking tour (and most painful) ever (well perhaps not ever, but it was long)!

The map I had had 3 different walking tours that locals recommended. I decided to combine all three plus take out or add to things I didn’t/wanted to see. I started off at the Botanical Gardens. Then I saw a church that could be pretty, so I walked about 10 minutes down to see it. It turned out to be quite small and not as nice as I thought so I took a photo and then turned around and walked back. Then I commenced down the street to find a monument of sorts, a farmer’s market (where I got a waffle for .50 Euro!), another church, European Parliament, Museums, a lot of parks, more fries, the Royal Palace, the Judicial Building, a great view, more tea, a very long road and more. It took me about 5 hours but I got to see quite a lot of the city. There was certainly more to be seen but I don’t think I would have wanted to stay more than a day. It’s definitely more of a business city then touristy. I actually didn’t see a single tourist shop all day and had to wait to buy my postcard (I buy one everywhere I go) at the airport.

Then I went back to my hostel, chilled out a little bit and then went to the train station to buy my ticket for this morning and check departure times.

Afterwards I went back and had another wonderful early evening curled in bed. I thought that it was pretty funny that there were people just getting to the hostel at 3am when I had to wake up at 4. I actually overheard someone saying to another person in the room they were from Pennsylvania at 3:30am so I asked where at in PA and she’s from Upper Dublin, about an hour from me. I never did meet her though since I had to leave in an hour. Small world.

  • B

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This past weekend I went on another trip with Link (the aupair connection group in Geneva). We traveled to Zermatt, the number one tourist attraction in Switzerland! At 7:30am all 45 of us hoped on the bus excited for a weekend of hiking, bonding and exploring the country we all live in. Once we got there we were all enamored by the natural beauty of the mountains. There is something so spiritual about the mountains that make me truly feel God's presence. Among other things, my own spiritual growth and development has really blossomed in Switzerland. I'm able to walk with God daily and learn more about him and myself while being surrounded by his beautiful creation. I have been so blessed to have this time to grow and explore this part of myself.
The first day we did a short hike to a small village called Zmutt. We all had apple strudel, although it was certainly not as good as the one in Munich. Then I went with two friends on a short hike back down to Zermatt. After a delicious dinner in the hostel we played some cards and then I decided to get a shower and hop into bed to work on my French homework. Most of the girls ended up going out to the clubs in the area but I was really glad to get some time to study and sleep before the next day. Call me lame, but perhaps I'm just maturing... oh dear...
The next day we took a train to the top of one of the mountains. We had an excellent view of the Matterhorn from there! We were around 10,000 feet, the highest I've ever been while remaining on land! The next 4 hours were spent hiking all the way back down to the town. We had a few short breaks but for the most part hiked the whole way down continuously. It was quite strenuous but I'm really glad that although I'm not in fantastic shape I can still push my body to achieve really great things. Our ride home was quite uneventful as we were all exhausted. It's been 3 days since the hike and it still hurts to walk down stairs or hills. It was still completely worth it and I'm so glad to have gone!

I have a lot planned for the upcoming months! In two weeks I will be going to Brussels, Bruges, Copenhagen and Berlin as a solo trip for a week! Then I'm planning a trip to either Rome or Prague in November and then in December I'm going back to Paris and meeting my sister for New Years! From there we will go to London to see Wicked. I'm a combination of excited and anxious for these trips! Can't wait to let you all know how they go!

- B

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I believe that I've wanted to go to Oktoberfest ever since the first time I saw an "Oktoberfest" tent in the U.S. I remember my dad telling me about it in Germany. Finally on the weekend of September 24 - 26 I got my chance! I traveled with 5 girls first to Zurich to spend the night and then on to Munich early friday morning.

I was still tired and had planned to sleep for the 4 hour train ride to Munich but everyone else had a different plan... start drinking! Unfortunately, we had all booked our train tickets individually so I wasn't sitting near my friends, I was sitting near a group of rowdy French (or Swiss French) teenagers. It made for a rather unenjoyable train ride due to their drinking, yelling and general obnoxious behavior.

Eventually we arrived in Munich! The train station was full of what we would be surrounded by all weekend, beer, pretzels, chocolate, souvenirs, bread and other carb-filled goodies! And thus we started our quest to find our camp site. When we arrived we staked our claim on a spot to call home the next two nights. We were surrounded by tents, RV's caravans and other people there to party! We set up camp in the beautiful warm weather and then headed to the festival!

We were told to just "follow the crowd" and then we discovered why. There are millions of people at Oktoberfest, enough to have a constant mob going to and from the festival grounds. We were just in our jeans and T-shirts but that seemed out of place. Most people donned the traditional German lederhosen and dirndls. After purchasing our first Bratwurst we checked out the rides and got into the festive mood! No dark clouds looming in the distance could ruin our high spirits!

Unfortunately, a positive outlook does not an umbrella make and the rain and cold settled in on Oktoberfest... and us. A few of us got ponchos but others sported their wet clothes proudly. Eventually, we did go back to our tents to join in the festivities there.

After a long, cold wet night, we woke up early and landed a spot in line for one of the famous beer tents! We were there by 8:30 and got a seat and beer by 9:30. I must say that first thing in the morning I was not feeling like a beer but eventually the peer pressure and general joviality encouraged us all to enjoy a beer or two. We met some wonderful new friends and had a fantastic time singing, dancing, walking on tables or benches and taking pictures!

The next day we checked out of our campsite and went into Munich to see some of the actual city. We found a cozy cafe (aka McDonald's) and had a delicious breakfast. Then we went to see some of the sites thankful that the rain had stopped. Tired and Sick we finally got on our train back home. 5 best friends, 4 new Facebook friends, 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 2 train changes and 1 Nicolas Sparks book later we were back in Geneva. The experiences and memories that we were all so fortunate to have discovered will last a lifetime!

For a video of our adventure click HERE. Chelsie was so kind to put our experience on youtube!

- B