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

Monday, July 31, 2006


Last Friday, I had the day off so I decided to take the train into Lausanne for a visit. Lausanne is Switzerland's fifth largest city with a population of 116,300. It is the third most visited after Geneva and Zurich. It is the home of the International Olympic Committee. Situated on Lake Geneva amidst a myriad of hills, this city is breathtakingly beautiful.

I began the day by visiting the Olympic Museeum. It was very educational with information about the games and how the modern games began. There was also a ton of memorabilia from previous games. The torches were all on display, of particular interest to me was the one from the Atlanta games.

My favorite part of Lausanne was when I visited the church of St. Francois. When I got there I walked all around the building looking for the entrance. I finally found a small sign, in French, that said to visit the church enter through the bronze door. So I see this immense bronze door to my left and think, "I can't open that". But I walk up to it and it swings open, seemingly on its own. And then I hear this organ start to play. So I walk in and think this is kind of creepy. So I wander around this beautiful building built in the 13th century as a monastary. The entire time the organ was playing. It was a very neat experience. I never saw a soul the whole time I was there, people are missing out. When I was ready to go the door "magically" opend on its own.

I also visited the Tour de L'Ale, which was built in 1340 as part of the medieval defensive walls of Lausanne. "That we can admire the tower at all is due to those townspeople who opposed demoilition plans in 1903. " Quote from Lonely Planet guide to Switzerland. Imagine wanting to demiloish something that had stood for 600 years.

I spent a large part of the day walking up and down the many hilly streets of Lausanne. I definitly got my exercise that day. I also visited other museums and enjoyed the scenery. I would put pictures, but I am having issues with the computer. Sorry, maybe later.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Swiss Alps and the Matterhorn

So today I hiked in the Swiss Alps, and words cannot describe the sight. Even in the middle of July there is snow in the mountains. Being from the Southern part of the USA, I rarely see snow in December much less in July, so that was pretty exciting.

I had two days off in a row from work, so I decided to head down to the little town of Zermatt in the central southern portion of Switzerland. This town's claim to faim is the infamous Matterhorn. It has claimed many lives over the years. Below is a picture of a cemetery completly devoted to people who have lost their lives while attempting to climb. I did not make the attempt. There was the small matter of mountain climbing experience, a week of training, 1500 Francs. And oh yeah, I don't like heights.

While I was wondering around the city, I stumbled across three men playing their Alp horns. Elizabeth, I thought of you. The music was beautiful. One of the songs they played was Amazing Grace. I enjoyed it so much that when the moved to play on another street, I followed them so that I could listen some more. It was great free entertainment, Tim.

In order to hike around the Matterhorn and in the Alps, I had to take a cable car up to one of the peaks. The view from the car was absolutely breathtaking.

Some sheep I saw while hiking.

The Matterhorn at sunrise as seen from my hotel room. WOW.

Me in front of the Matterhorn.

Some of the houses that look down on the village of Zermatt. As we approached the town by train, I realized that this is what I expected Switzerland to look like. Zermatt has a strong German influence, and that is how I pictured Switzerland. The houses are built right into the side of the hills and there is so much green around the houses. It is very picturesqe. I love it. Oh and one more really cool thing about this town, cars are illegal. If the residents have cars they must park them outside the city limit. So the whole village is pedestrian friendly; it is great.

This is a close up shot of one of the houses.
Those large stone discs are supposed to keep rodents out.
I wonder if they really work.

So all in all I had a great mini-vacation in Zermatt. All that hiking I did in the hot sun gave a little sunburn, but oh well, a small price to pay for getting to see this most amazing sight.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Beucoups (Lots of) Pictures

English Speakers call it Lake Geneva. The Swiss call it Lac Léman.

Jet d'Eau dans Lac léman. Jet of Water on Lake Geneva. They turn it off when the wind is too strong, for obvious reasons.

Charles Luneburg, born in Brunswick on October 30, 1804, died in Geneva on August 18, 1873, appointed Geneva as his residuary legatee, being agreed that the city would erect a mausoleum on the model of the Scaliger tomb in Verona. Designed chiefly by Jean Franel, architect, this monument was finished in 1879. Originally there was a statue of Luneburg on a horse on the top of this monument, but it had to be taken down for safety reasons.

Monument de la Réformation (Reformation Monument) The man 2nd from the left is John Calvin.

La Rue de Jean Calvin (John Calvin Rd.)

What I think this says is: Lived Here and Year of Death. (I will let someone else figure out the years.) The House that he lived in was demolished in 1706 and replaced by this one, that resembles the original.

Eau Potable (Drinking Water). One of the very cool water fountains I saw during my walking tour of Geneva. I can't get the other one to load right now. And I did drink from the fountain and it hasn't had any adverse side effects yet.

This sign tells where the parking lots are and even tells you how many spots are available in each lot. Why don't we do that in the States?

God is so Good

So the other day I was incredibly frustrated by the language barrier. I was feeling like a stupid American and thinking that I would never be able to communicate with the people here. But God in His providence took care of me as He always does. As I was leaving the internet café, after making my last post. The attendant stopped me and was telling me about all the great features he has to offer, like incredibly cheap international phone calls. At first I was thinking, "Why are you trying I do not understand you." But to my surprise I did understand him, sort of. And when I responded he understood me. It was the most encouraging thing that could have happened to me. I was beaming when I left. I started to feel like maybe I could do this after all. Of course I have not forgotten that it will still be a lot of hard work to understand. But with God helping me I will survive. Praise God for small blessings.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I love Lucy

So is it bad when a large portion of your life relates to an episode of I love Lucy. When I worked at the Aquarium and we played with chocolate, I was reminded of the episode where Lucy and Ethel work in the candy factory. They get shuffled around from department to department because they are so inept at the job. And they end up making a mess with the chocolate.

Now that I am in a foreign country and don't speak the language, I am reminded of the episode where Lucy is in Italy and she is stomping grapes to "Soak up local color". And she can't understand what her boss is telling her to do and she just follows him around. That is what I feel like. I spend a lot of my time following people around and watching them trying to figure out what they want me to do.

This became really frustrating today when I was trying to do a simple thing like order lunch. I got really sick of not knowing what anyone is saying, and being confused a large portion of the time. I am surprised at how people keep trying to talk to me even when they know I can't understand them.

I guess this is just another opportunity to trust God more with everything that is going on in this country. Because I truly can't do it on my own. I figure things can only get better, they couldn't get much worse. Right?

Tomorrow I have the day off, so that will be a good chance to get some much needed rest.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My first day of work.

Today was the first day that I worked in the laboratory as they call it. The day began at 3 o`clock in the morning. Good thing I went to bed at 7 pm. I had to be at work at 4 am. We began with the bread. I did a lot of watching because I can not communicate with the people. Its amazing how unnecessary words are most of the time.

Once the pastry chef got there, I went and helped him. He speaksabout as much English as I speak French. So we had a fun time trying to communicate. He was very patient showing me how to do things since he could not just tell me.

As I have been sitting in this internet cafe, its pretty cool how many English songs they play. When I first got here they were playing Back Street Boys. It was pretty funny. Sometimes I almost forget that I am in Switzerland, with so much English around. But then I look at all the French signs and am reminded of how far away from home I really am.

I am not as scared as I was at first, because I have seen God provide for me on this trip. And I know it will continue. It gives me such peace about being here. I really think that I am going to love it.

I made it Switzerland

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your prayers upon my departure. Everything went fine even though I worried entirely too much. I made it to London with out any problems. I was supposed to have an 8 hour layover in London. I thought that I would use this time to wonder around the city, but I was going to have to take all my luggage with me. So I asked to be put on an earlier flight and they did, for a fee. So I arrived in Switzerland about 6 hours early.

The part I was concerned about was how to get from the airport to where I was staying. I called the only number I had. A Swiss woman answered to I was forced to speak my broken French with here. I was relieved when Chef Wolfisberg got on the phone and spoke excellent English. He said someone would be right there to get me, that was such a blessing.

Here is my room that I will call home for the next three months.

So today I was able to have a tour of Geneva and see Lake Geneva. It is absolutely breathtaking. The city is so picturesque. I am going to love it here.

Can I just say that I hate Swiss keyboards? Some of the letters are switched and it makes typing very difficult. I am going to have to learn how to do this all over again. I guess that comes with the territory of traveling.
Communicating is definitely going to be a challenge. The family I am staying with speaks English, and Spanish, and Itlaian, and German and French of course. I am so amazed. I feel like an idiot for only being able to speak English and that is not even great all the time.

But the people I will be working with speak mostly French. So I better learn it really fast or just figure out how to communicate other ways. Oh well, its an adventure right?
Thanks again for your prayers. I miss you all already.