Sunday, June 6, 2010

Switzerland and Germany, briefly

Because of the way we arranged the last couple weeks of our trip, after two nights in Venice we took the train to Zurich, Switzerland for two nights. Two days each in Italy and Switzerland is obviously an absurdly short amount of time. The train ride from Venice to Zurich made this all too clear. It was a gorgeous ride through tiny mountain towns and beautiful countryside. Every bend of the train had me wanting to get off and explore the surrounding villages and mountains. But, our schedule didn't allow us time to do that. I was sad about this, but similar to the cliche that it's better to have loved and lost, I suppose it's better to have two days as opposed to none.
From Zurich
We met up in Zurich with our friend Aaron from Seattle. He's lived in Zurich for about a year now, and definitely has mixed feelings about Zurich and Switzerland in general. It's a very orderly place, but almost too orderly, almost to the point of creepy orderliness (he's not allowed to do laundry on Sunday for example, and he's heard of apartment buildings where you're not allowed to take showers after 10PM because of the noise of the running water). Everything is very regimented; there are rules and regulations for everything and he finds the people to be very stiff and hard to get to know. However, the city itself is beautiful, sitting at the top of Lake Zurich, nestled between mountains and lots and lots of greenery. The city also has wonderful old architecture, including several churches, and the largest clock face in Europe.

We took a day trip with Aaron and his friend Eva to the German town of Constance, about an hour away by train. Contance is popular with vacationing Germans (redundant, I know, as pretty much all Germans are vacationing) and like Zurich, is set on a large lake amidst mountains. Constance is popular with Swiss visitors too as a place to do shopping as availability, selection and costs are better than in Switzerland. While in Constance we climbed to the top of a cathedral for amazing views of the town and surrounding countryside.
From Zurich
Having only spent less than 48 hours in Switzerland (with about eight of those in Germany) we know that we definitely want to come back. We saw loads of people riding bikes, and we would love to come back to do some biking and hiking. We didn't get up into the mountains this trip but it would be really fun to do some hiking and camping on a multi-day backpacking trip through either the Swiss or Italian Alps some other time.

Now we're off to Iceland, the last stop of our trip. Our flight leaves from Frankfurt, Germany so we booked a train from Zurich to Frankfurt where we take a plane to Reykjavik. It was difficult to find a couchsurfing host in Reykjavik, but at the last minute a Polish couple who lives there said they could host us. We have four days in Iceland, and we're not sure what we're going to do there. This Polish couple said they would host us for our first two nights, and after that maybe we'll rent a car (although the prices were ridiculously expensive, so we may nix that plan). Possibly we'll do an organized tour. We found a pretty awesome website that lists so many incredible activities to do in Iceland. I feel like a kid in a candy store looking at the possibilities. We'll post details on what we end up doing after we decide.

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