Tomorrow we are off on an epic adventure to Norway with the Olander clan. A sweet cruise that starts in Copenhagen and travels up the coast to the Arctic Circle where apparently we'll see very little darkness. Daylight at midnight sounds pretty awesome.
We're all packed and ready to go - our last big adventure before the wedding in September!
Our new blog will be here: chrismarissanorway.blogspot.com
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Thanks to the Swiss technicians who smashed a car into one of the engines of our plane (no joke, this really happened) I have time for one final blog while still breathing Swiss Air (see what I did there...so clever, I know).
We're up in the Panorama Lounge, which has a decent view of the runway, having a feast of a lunch.
The soup and bread is pretty good really. I'm going to get seconds, be right back.
Yum. Ok, where was I? Oh yes, final thoughts. Here are some odds & ends from our trip.
Swiss Vending Machines
Don't be to hot on an elevator
Or maybe don't have too much romance? Not really sure.
Also, this bathroom is not for dragons.
I can double confirm that Swiss women still like to wear leather pants. Not sure why.
Total Ferraris in Zurich: 4. Total Mustangs with stripes: 1. Sorry Marissa. Zurich is a Ferrari town.
Dinner and drinks with friends is a great way to end a trip.
This was my first ride ever in an underground funicular!
They run a marathon in Zermatt. Through the Alps. #hardcore
Lastly, I still love it here. Hop Suisee!
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Switzerland is a small, landlocked country in the middle of Europe. You probably already knew this. It's only 41,285 km² big. That's one tenth the size of California for reference. I didn't know it was that small until I looked it up during the middle of our trip. Though it is geographically small it is emotionally huge to me.
I just finished backing up all my stuff to head home. This is always the least favorite part of any successful trip for me. I'm not ready to leave. I was ready to leave Russia when we were coming home from the Olympics. It's not that we didn't have a great time, we did, but Russia was not as welcoming or charming or warm or most importantly, full of friends.
That's the real difference for our Switzerland. I've been to lots of beautiful destinations but I've never really had friends abroad to visit. I'm not always the most social of people but visiting friends while traveling really helps make things stand out. It makes places warm. It makes them a bit more familiar and a little more
I know I have the tourist view of Switzerland. I'm sure there are some not so great people and places here (at least one or two). I also know that I'm all wrapped up in emotions with my new fiancé. Even still, this had been the most perfect week. The best vacation. The best way to start a new chapter in life. It's been the best and perfect place to visit. I don't want to leave and doubly so this time.
Thanks you Switzerland, you're not really that neutral to us.
There be bears in Berne!
Another early morning as we had to get to the train station to visit with friends in Berne. No rest for the adventurers.
After arriving in Berne at 10:30 we had some time to wander around before meeting our friends. Berne is the capital of Switzerland and also contains a UNESCO World Heritage Site...right in the Berne train station.
Berne was first settled around 1200 A.D. and expanded a few times during the 13th & 14 centuries. There is an information board with facts and details about the town as well as actual remnants of walls and fortifications in between shops.
We met up with our friends Sandra and her boyfriend Daniel in front of perhaps the two most American of stores, Starbucks and McDonald's (also just down the way from those wall remnants). We settled on a walking tour of Old Town Berne with a visit to the Berne bears (yes, real, live bears).
Our first stop was the Swiss Capitol building which was under going some renovation/construction. It's an impressive building though not quite on the scale of the Capitol building in D.C.
All of the buildings in this part of town are still constructed out of the original limestone (maybe sandstone) which to me always looks great. I wish we could use limestone in buildings back home but in an earthquake it would turn to dust.
The back side of the Capitol has a great view looking out over the city and the river. They picked a great spot to build! After a brief pause here we continued on down the old quarter.
There were lots of statues and fountains all around the streets in this part of town. There is also a very old and large clock tower in this part of the city.
We walked all the way through the old town area and finally arrived at the Berne Bear exhibit. As you can see (up top) there is a bear in the coat of arms for this Swiss canton. It's the official animal of Berne and where the city gets its name. Legend has it that the first animal the city founders killed was supposed give name to the town. However when the first animal killed was a rabbit everyone wanted a do over and a bear was killed next. Probably a good choice.
The (newer) bear habitat sits right alongside the river and is free to the public. It's a nice enclosure if still a bit small (though a massive upgrade from where the bears used to be kept).
You can still get reasonably close to the bears and walk all around the enclosure.
After a brief sizing up of us humans, this guy wanted a small rest.
We had a nice lunch at a brewery right next door with excellent beer and an excellent view back to Berne.
We're now resting up before our last night in Switzerland. We're meeting up again with Marlene from Team Tirinzoni who has promised to find us a great place for our last dinner here in Zurich.
And by resting, of course I mean Marissa is napping while I doodle on the blog.
Friday, September 12, 2014
What a day it's been! So much fun, it takes away the sadness from leaving Zermatt. After 4-ish hours on trains we finally met up with some Swiss friends in a (little) town called Mellingen heitersberg.
As we stepped out of the train onto the platform we looked around and soon saw a short, smiling blonde walking towards us in a leather jacket waiving a bottle of champagne. Our friend, and newly minted Stu Sells Oakville Tankard champion, Silvana Tirinzoni was there to meet us as we arrived in her town.
Being able to meet Silvana at a train station in her home town, in Switzerland, is a memory that makes this trip all the more extra special. It was part of the last small surprise I had in store for Marissa. Proposing to Marissa was the first big thing I was excited about, visiting with Silvana and Team Tirinzoni was probably the second.
It was raining in Mellingen (which is NorthWest of Zurich by 30 minutes) so of course I was wearing shorts. And my leather jacket. Classic. But no matter. We set off for adventure to Lenzburg Castle.
It had a dragon on the top. Any castle with a dragon, I'm in (any castle really).
We had a nice stroll through several parts of the castle...
The rainy Courtyard.
Confused at the parapet.
The life sized chess room (little known fact, that's a real historical castle room, no need to look it up).
The "downstairs" kitchen (those might have been real dead pigeons, not really sure).
Also with giant tankards for ale.
And finally the room to learn about the legend of the dragon.
We had a great tour and ended with a walk in the rain around the castle (FYI, Switzerland has plenty of rain so California, find a way to import some pronto).
Finally, the last surprise for this trip was about to happen. We got to crash a practice with Team Tirinzoni. Woo hoo! I knew this was something that Marissa has wanted to do for a while and thanks to the tremendous generosity of all the Tirinzoni girls: Silvana, Esther, Marlene and Manuela (thank you so much girls for making this happen) this became a reality.
First we had a terrible, terrible sweeping drill that I'm going to inflict on my team when we get back home. So tough but good practice. We followed this up with draw to the button drills, hit drills, and finally a 3 on 3 game. Marissa's team had the upper hand but we all had fun. I just hope we didn't ruin their mojo for the rest of the season.
We all gathered around the table after practice and cracked open a bottle of champagne to celebrate not only our engagement but also good friends (and good curling). This is why curling is the greatest sport. It's brought me so much and even athletes at the highest level are some of the nicest, down to earth, best people you will meet. I love this sport.
We ended the day with a home cooked, authentic Swiss meal, raclette (and Brawt's). It was great. A fine way to end a terrific day.
We only have one more full day in Switzerland but we're going to make the most of it. We are off to Berne to visit more curling friends.
Silvana is so generous to put us up at her place for the night. The girls are already plotting some sort of world domination.
Huge thanks again to Silvana and all of Team Tirinzoni. You've helped make this trip extra special. You're awesome. For the folks back at home who are on twitter, follow @teamtirinzoni. They're the best.
Marissa and I are sitting on the train waiting to go to Visp. Headed to the next leg of our adventure, we're leaving Zermatt but with so much more than when we arrived.
It's hard to really put into words what Zermatt means to me. It's majestic and awesome, full of grandure while at the same time warm and cozy, intimate and personal. I've never been to a place like this and had an experience of such importance. I've also had so much fun.
I came to Zermatt with a girlfriend and a dream. I leave with a Fiancé and a dream fulfilled. I could not ask for more from this place. It has been beautiful throughout.
This is not an end but only a beginning.