Travels in Foreign Lands

This will be my opportunity to share some of my thoughts and experiences in Switzerland with my friends and family back home. I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures.

Location: Japan

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Just for fun and has nothing to do with Switzerland

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coming Home

We got up early yesterday, and headed for the train station, to catch a train back to Geneva. I don't know why I always insist on being early. The trains are always late. We ended up having to switch trains in Paris before ours had even left the station. We didn't leave until about an hour after schedule.

But other than that we made it safely to Geneva. We repacked all of our stuff and tried to get to bed early, for our long day of coming home.

This morning I got up at 3:30 AM, I couldn't sleep, and we had to be ready to go at 5:00 AM. We had breakfast, said goodbye to some of my French Bible Study friends and headed for the airport. Pierre from the Bible Study drove us. If he hadn't taken us, we would have had to take a taxi, because the trams don't go that early.

At the airport, true to form, our flight to London was delayed. It didn't really matter, becaus we had a four hour layover in London anyway.

We eventually got to London. Our flight to Atlanta was, thankfully, on time. The flight was uneventful, just like I like it. We touched down on American soil at 4:30 PM. It is so very good to be home again.

I had an amazing time in Europe, but there is no place like home. Thank you to everyone who kept up with my blog and prayed for me during the difficult times. I really needed it. I can't wait to be able to hear your voices again and speak with you regularly.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Versailles and Church

Yesterday, we took a day trip to Versailles and mostly wandered around and looked at the gardens. They were beautiful. Unfortunately, all the fountains were off. Sad day, the fountains are my favorite part. We had planned to rent some bikes and really explore the gardens. But instead we just found a place to sit and read. It was very relaxing.

Today was Sunday, and we went down to the American Church in Paris. I heard a sermon in English for the first time in weeks; it was great.

For lunch we were going to to Dans le Nuit (In the Dark). Dans le Nuit is a restaurant where you eat the entire meal in complete darkness, and your servers are all blind. I had heard of this place before leaving for Europe and found the idea intriguing. But even though the hours on the door said they were open, they were closed. Crazy French people.

So we ended up down in Pompideau Center and bought some sandwhiches for lunch. There was this street performer doing a really good improv act. So we had some cheap entertainment with our lunch.

Then we went back to the American Church in Paris for a free concert. Then back to the hostel for our last evening in Paris.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Date

I had told Tim one day that I missed being able to get all dressed up and go on a date with him. So tonight, Tim took me out. We went to a cute little place on Montartre called Poulbot. It had beautiful flowers all around the entrance. And inside they had crammed as many tables as would fit. But it was beautifully decorated. It was like something from the 1930's. So cute.

We both had appetizers of escargot (snails). I have been wanting to try escargot since high school. Even still, I was a bit nervous to put them in my mouth. When I did, I discovered that they were really good. They were served with this amazing pesto butter sauce. The rest of the meal was good as well, but the escargot was the highlight for me.

Then we were going to go to a concert at Notre Dame, but when we got there the sign said free concerts except Friday. We had missed the "except Friday" part before. Oh well.

Instead we watched these guys playing with fire. It was impressive. Then we went for a walk down the Seine. It was very nice.

The Catacombs

We slept in a little today. We were both so exhausted after all of our non-stop activity. When we did finally get our lazy selves out of the hostel, we wandered down to the Catacombs. At the entrance to the Catacombs "Stop! This is the empire of the dead."

It was the strangest thing. A couple hundred years ago disease was rampant in the city of Paris because of all of the cemeteries in such close proximity to the living quarters. So they ended up digging up about 6,000,000 graves and dumping them into these abandoned mine passageways under the city. The mines had been dug to gather rocks for building, but eventually this had to be stopped because one of the river banks was about to collapse into the mines.

After some time the Parisian leaders decided it would be a good idea to go down into the Catacombs and organize the bones so they could charge people admission to come and see. Thus the Catacombs as we know them today were born.

The walls were covered in stacks and stacks of bones. They were very artfully arranged as well. The skulls were placed in various geometric shapes, even hearts and crosses.

We also came across many plaques with various French sayings referencing death. We also say many Biblical quotes.

We were strongly warned to keep to the marked path, because in the 1850s a Frenchman ignored this advice and ended up a permanent resident of the Catacombs. I wonder if they ever found his body. Needless to say, we stuck to the path.

The passageways underground mimicked the roads above and the rooms underground mimicked the houses above. It was very well thought out. When we finally did get out of the Catacombs, we popped out on some random street a few blocks from where we started. The whole experience was very interesting.

Then we ventured down to the Pantheon. This is the home of Foucalt's Pendulum. That was the coolest science experiement I had ever seen. It tells time by the rotation of the Earth. There is a pendulum suspended above the floor with a dial and hours on the floor. As the pendulum swings and the Earth rotates, it tells time. This works on the same principle as rotating a glass of iced tea. The ice does not rotate in relation to the glass. As the Earth rotates, the "clock" on the floor does not appear to move while the pendulum does. This allows the pendulum to tell time. It is fascinating to me.

There was also this really weird art exhibit inside. That is what is obstructing your view in the picture.

We wanted to have crepes for lunch. We got the ham, cheese and eggs which had been so good our first day in Paris. But the guy didn't know what he was doing and the eggs weren't cooked at all. It was gross.

We went back to the Pantheon to take the tour up to the top. There were a lot of stairs to climb, but the view was great. Afterwards we wandered around the Latin Quarter, then went back to the hostel to get ready for our date.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Views of the City

We started our day by going up to the Arc de Triumphe. Getting to the Arc looks very difficult, because it is in the middle of an intersection with about 8 roads coming together. I don't understand how the drivers get through there without running into each other. We hiked up to the top and were rewarded by amazing views of the city and down the Champs Elysees.
While we were up there, I marveled as the cars zipped around the traffic circle and didn't run into each other. If I lived here, I would avoid driving there at all costs. Prior to the building of the Arc by Napolean to commemorate his victories in battle, an architect had proposed a giant elephant in the center of the traffic circle. That idea didn't go over very well, thankfully. It wouldn't have been nearly as impressive.

Then we took the Metro the Louvre. The Metro in Paris works so well, I love it. At the museum we saw the Mona Lisa, what is the big draw with her anyway? I don't get it. We saw Winged Victory, which I love.
The way she is displayed it looks like she is going to come flying down the stairs. We found the very elaborately decorated Napolean's Quarters.

For dinner tonight we decided to get some bread, cheese and wine for dinner. But had a lot of difficulty finding a grocery store. We ended up getting everything at different shops, and paying way too much. And of course after we bought our food, we found two grocery stores, figures.

After dinner, we decided to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was very windy, but very beatiful. The city is magnificent at night.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Museum Day

Since it was rainy today, we decided it would be best to entertain ourselves in-doors. We started out at the Wine Museum. This gave us a peak into the wine making industry throughout the generations in France. These people are serious about wine.

At the end we were supposed to get a free taste of wine. When we asked about it, the atttendant said it didn't come with our tickets. Then she said she was just kidding. Tim was very surprised at finding sarcasm in the service industry. It would be very inappropriate in the States. But I have found it to be normal here. It is just a different culture.

The next stop was the Musee d'Orsay which was built to be a train station. It was a very beautiful building with a lot of art.

We thought about goint to the Louvre, but were too tired and went for naps instead. Apparently, we didn't do a good enough job being bums yesterday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bums in Paris

We have been traveling pretty much non-stop for over two weeks now, and the pace is beginning to get to us. So we decided we needed to try and take a day off. We just wandered around and went into a lot of tourist shops. I don't think Paris has enough of those, maybe I should go open some more, just kidding.

We visited Notre Dame. Tim and I had both seen it before, on previous trips, but it was covered in scaffolding for cleaning. This time the scaffolding was gone. The cathedral was a beautiful white, and we were able to see the elaborate detailing on the statues. It was amazing.

The Rose Window inside the cathedral. It is about 50 feet in diameter.

Another stop we made was at Centre Pompidou, which is this building with all of the internal plumbing, electrical wires, heating ducts and such on the outside and color coded. It was a stark contrast to the ancient architecture surrounding it. Like many monuments in Paris and Europe in general, the natives hate it.

For dinner, we tried to cook at the hostel, but there is only one hot plate for the entire hostel. So that was an interesting experience.

Paris At Last

Yesterday, we arrived in Paris. I love Paris. I have been here once before in high school, but I was with a group and couldn't really go where I wanted. So this will be a new experience.

Last night we mostly relaxed and wandered around. We went up to Montmartre, which is very close to our hostel. There is a beautiful view of the city up there. We could even see the Eiffel Tower. I had to go visit the Tower. So we went. It is beautiful at night. Every hour they make it look like it is sparkling, by flashing lights all over it, for about ten minutes. That was really neat to see.

That evening as we were heading back to the hostel, Tim saw Jackie Chan. They are filming Rush Hour III in Paris. I'll have to watch it when it comes out now.