We drove into Switzerland. All of us were a little disappointed that we would not get a stamp in our passports. But on the plus side, we switched countries relatively easy. It only took about a five minute stop.
Our first stop in the new country was at Rhine Falls. We paid the price to walk down to the falls (of course it costs! Even the bathrooms and grocery sacks require payment).
I noticed the locks on the fences and recognized them (courtesy a Hallmark movie) as love locks.
After the falls, we traveled to Lucerne for the evening. We went for a walk and only got moderately lost. Not even worth panicking about because we recovered quickly.
Our tour host made sure we saw the Lion Monument. Mark Twain even visited this place and made note of it. You can read the history here. She also made sure we walked across the Chapel Bridge. Although restored after a fire in 1993, it still has paintings in the wooden bridge. To find out more about the bridge click here.
The next morning we took a boat ride across Lake Lucerne, elevation just above 1,400 feet. We then took a tram up Mount Pilatus. A slow ride up to the top and how high did we go? Up to about 7,000 feet. 7,000 feet? I’ve lived at 7,000 feet. I live just a few hundred feet shy of that now. But after a near 6,000 foot climb the view was still impressive. We climbed up to a couple of the peaks and overlooked the Alps. It was a remarkable view even if it was only 7,000 feet high. To get down we took gondolas.
That outing on Mount Pilatus marked our jumping the shark, so to speak. If you are familiar with the vernacular you now know that we peaked (no pun intended) on the mountain. Our trip hit a bit of a snag after that. KG, our tour host, was born in Germany and was familiar with that country but once we left she was out of her element and expertise. Everything we experienced for the first time was her first time as well. And it made a noticeable difference.
Our next stop was Bern, Switzerland and we stayed at the temple hostel. There were two good things about the hostel. One, I gained an appreciation for my temple a convenient 100 miles away. It may take a whole day to attend the temple but only a day. I don’t have to stay in a hostel. The second good thing about the stay was the free laundry services. I did some laundry (for free) to get through the rest of the week.
Why didn’t I like Switzerland? I didn’t get any Francs. I had no money for souvenirs or food. We found out the most expensive McDonalds was in the neighborhood. A meal cost 16 Francs. I had to rely on other people to eat. That was uncomfortable. We had too much down time and it was the most uncomfortable sleeping arrangement – even beating the I Love Lucy twin bed set-up. The room for us single women had three sets of bunk beds with no lounging room. There was no air conditioning. The shower area consisted of a shower and sink. The toilet was in a separate closet by itself.
The whole trip was a test of uncomfortable situations for this anxiety ridden introvert. But none were as uncomfortable as the long night in the hostel. As a group, we went for a walk in the middle of the day but it was so hot and humid we didn’t go far. We found a store with air conditioning that sold furniture on the second floor and sat on the furniture for sale to rest. I didn’t have any Francs to buy souvenirs so it was frustrating to have so much time at a store and I couldn’t take advantage of it.
I tried going for a walk in the woods but GK hurt her finger on Stinging Nettle and we had to go back to the room. Pride didn’t allow me to go to dinner with everyone because I would have needed someone else to pay for my meal. I ended up lying on my bed at 8:00pm wishing the night would just be over already. That’s not really how you want to spend your hard-earned vacation.
A youth group from Rome was also in the hostel and they acted like a youth group. I admire the leaders and youth for being willing to make a sacrifice to attend the temple for a whole week. And we have trouble getting our youth here in the states to commit to one day.
The next morning, we attended the temple. The language was in Italian so we used headsets again. I did my best to stay awake. You would think since I went to bed so early that I would have been well rested. It didn’t work that way.
After the temple we drove a whole lot of miles to Metz, France. That day definitely put the road in road trip. I claimed my territory in the back of the tour bus so that I could sleep and avoid annoying small talk.
We arrived in Metz in the evening ready for dinner. Our lunches usually consisted of stopping at rest stops as we traveled so we were always excited to sample the local cuisine. We found a small place a few blocks from our hotel and opted to eat outside since the building had no air conditioning. However, as we started looking at our menus a few drops of rain came. We went inside which proved to be a good choice as the drops were soon accompanied by a decent rain storm. The food was slow to arrive and in fact one in our travel company didn’t even receive his meal. It was stuck in the elevator bringing it from the basement.
About 9:00pm we left the restaurant. The rain had subsided so we went for a walk. We were drawn to another gothic church and kept walking. This time we paid strict attention to our direction of travel so that we could retrace our steps for our return trip. After looking at the church for a bit we continued walking.
We found, by accident, the Temple of Garrison remains. All that remains of the church is the bell tower. The interpretation for the site was, of course, in French. But I think that is the place we found. How many destroyed churches with only the remaining bell tower can one city have?
After walking around the remains for a half a second (the group I was with did not linger long at any one site) we headed back to our hotel. It took us this long to pay attention to our wanderings and to retrace our steps with exactness to prevent getting lost.
We walked back to the first church we had passed. It turned out to be an impressive church to find by accident. It was too late to go inside but the detail on the outside lacked nothing. It told the history of church, the world, religion, France, and probably so much more. Since it was getting dark on our return trip we were able to see a light show put on the outside of the church.
As we walked back to the hotel, I tried to come up with a way to make a living out of traveling. It seemed to suit me. I could be “The Quiet Traveler” if only someone would pay me to quietly travel.
My Europe Road Trip Part V