Monday, June 30, 2014

Basel and Baden

I didn't sleep very well last night because I was worried about getting my Swiss Pass from FedEx but it worked out fine! My pass got here about ten and I hopped on the 10:52 train to Basel for my first solo travel!!! L didn't think Basel needed a full day so I figured it was an alright place to go with a shorter day. 

When I got to Basel, it was about lunch time, so I headed done to the river looking for food. It rained pretty good between my walk down to the river then back up to Rathausplatz to actually find food. I got a bratwurst and half a pretzel and it was delicious!!!! From ther, I went through the Rathaus, which is the city hall. It was beautiful! 

From there, I headed back down to the river to visit the Baselr Munster. It was really cool from the outside and beautiful on the inside. The Swiss seem to be a lot less picky about pictures in their churches than the French or Italians, which is nice. I didn't go up in the tower because it was so nasty out but I did check out the back patio/park. From there you can see Germany across the river and France down steam to the left. 

After that, I tried to go to a couple of the museums but the first one was just poorly labelled and at the second, I realized that most museums in Switzerland are closed on Mondays. I ended up walking around old town for a while. It's very terraced almost with all the parallel streets above each other and not a whole lot of cross streets because they have to be where it's not too steep. 

I ended up by the Tinguely Brunnen Fountain which is a really cool mechanical fountain. Pretty much all of the metal parts in the picture were moving! 

At that point, I took some time to look at the map and realized without the museums I only needed to visit the city gate to have hit all the main attractions. So, I walked back across town to the gate.

On the way back to the train station I stopped by the Offene Kirche Elisabrthen but it too was closed on Mondays. 

Overall, I had a really good day. I may go back to Basel some time to get in the museums, but we'll see! I did really good travelling alone, too. Which I'm not surprised about, but I was nervous in the morning. 

After I got back to Baden, I started planning for tomorrow until L came home. It was such a nice afternoon that we decided to walk up to the Ruined Stein on the hill behind Old Town Baden. I snapped a picture of the clock tower in old town on the way. The castle was built sometime before 1000 and changed hands several times before it was besieged in 1415. They were eventually rebuilt in 1658 but semi-demolished in 1712. Pretty sweet, also pretty high without much in the way of a guard rail! The views were amazing though! Definitely worth the climb! Our apartment is behind the four rounded brick buildings. 

From there, we came home and grabbed dinner and went to eat by the river. Overall, an excellent day! I hope we have a lot more like it! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014


We had planned to go to Interlaken on Saturday, but the weather was crappy and without my Swiss Pass it's really expensive for me to go much further than Zurich. So that's where we decided to go for the day. First though, we hapeaded to Ikea to get a second pillow. We stopped at the coop (grocery store) for breakfast. L showed me how things work and we got pastrys to eat on the ride to Ikea. It was my first Ikea experience and it was pretty neat! They have EVERYTHING!! 

After we went dropped off the pillow, we headed to Zurich. From Baden there are to InterRegional trains to Zurich so it's only 1-2 stops to get there. When we got there, it was lunch time so we walked down to the river, picked up some pretzel sandwiches and cold beers and picniced by Lake Zurich where the river meets the lake. There was an awesome view of the alps! The swans (tons of them!) really wanted to share our sandwiches!!

After lunch, we walked around old town visiting the three main churches in Zurich. Fraumunster was closed for a wedding but still pretty from the outside.

Grosmunster was amazing! It had some of the coolest stained glass I've ever seen! It was actually made of geodes!! We bought a postcard for Zeke because we though he'd like the rocks in the windows! 

Another wedding had just finished at St. Peter's but we still got to walk in. It was pretty plain on the inside, but the outside boasts the largest clock face in Europe. 

After walking for a while, we bar hopped some then walked down the left side of the lake for a while. From there, we could see the top of another church so we walked back up to the river then down the right side to the church. We stopped at the fountain in the way. 

The church was closed and I'm not sure what church it is, but the outside was really pretty! It would have had a great view of the city if not for the crane! 

From there, we wandered back to old town to find a dinner restaurant. On the way, we found some sheep friends!! 

I don't remember where we had dinner, but it was delicious. It was weird though. We were eating at the edge of the awning but it started raining so we moved to a very large table between two old, possibly homeless guys. One was nice and talked to us. The other was not very nice and his dog was obviously scared of him. :( But, the food was amazing so we didn't worry about it too much. I had spetzle with ham and creamy cheese sauce. L had a lamb bratwurst with home fries. From there, we headed to the train station and back to Baden. Overall, it was a great day! 

Oh! And there are flowers all over Zurich and one of the flowers they use is Lacey Dusty Miller which is one of our wedding flowers!!

Meet some ABB people

After my nap on Friday, I went for another walk around Baden. This time I went down to the river Limmat and walked along it for a while. It was gorgous! You can definitely tell that socializing is a much more typical part of Swiss life than it is back home. Taking driving out of the equation really makes meeting up with friends a much easier prospect-- no open container laws help too! Baden is situated above the river so after climbing up a lot of stairs, I made it back to the city center. From there, I was actually able to make it back to L's apartment without looking at google maps! 

When L got home, we went out to meet his work team for a drink. We went to Mr. Pickwick's, the speaking watering hole of Baden. His work people were all nice and seem like a great group to work with. I talked a lot with Jonathan who L works most closely with on a day to day based. He's from New Zaeland and seems like a pretty cool guy! We went to his massive apartment in Dietikon. Seriously, it was huge, like bigger than our apartment back home! He fixed steaks, pasta, and cabbage with peppers for supper and it was delicious!! We hung out for a while then headed for the train home. We actually missed the train by about 5 minutes so we walked around for a while. While we were walking, we found the tunnel where then dementors tried to get Harry and Dudley in the Order of the Phoenix movie! When we got home, I crashed hard. It was a great first day in Switzerland!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Made it to Switzerland!!

I've made it to Switzerland!!!! After about 12 rather up eventful hours of traveling I got to Zurich around 8am, local time. Leaving Raleigh, I can usually tell what I'm flying over, but today I actually found my parents house for the first time (that I can recall)-- picture below, the big field area is Bayleaf Farms, across the road from their house. The TVs on flight from JFK to Zurich were broken which was probably a blessing because they couldn't distract me from trying to sleep. I probably slept 4-5 hours but it was not quality sleep by any means. I did get to the alps which was awesome!

The plan was for me to make my way to Baden alone using Landon's very thorough directions but his presentation today was moved to 11 so he surprised me at the airport! That was such a relief! I hadn't been scared at all leading up to the trip but when I was actually faced with traveling and interacting on my own I was pretty nervous. We got my SIM card for my phone then were about to hit the trains when I realized- OH NO! -I left my Swiss train pass in our scanner at home. Luckily, it doesn't actually cover the entire time I'm here anyways. There was always going to be a few days where I had to pay for the trains. Those can just be at the beginning of the trip instead of the end like I'd planned. My parents have the pass and are figuring out the best way to get it to me. Also, the protection plan I bought really only covers strikes and it getting stolen-- there has to be a police report and everything-- so no help there. I'm not worried though, I'll get it when I get it. 

After Landon dropped me off at his studio, he headed in to work for the day. I tried to nap unsuccessfully to nap the unpacked. This studio is tiny. I've cleaned bigger horse stalls than this! No, really, the double, foaling stalls at Falcon Park were definitely bigger than this room by a pretty good amount! It does have a pretty cool view of a green court yard, though!

I wandered around for a while after unpacking, trying to get my bearings and realized that 80* feels a lot hotter than you expect when you're walking around in jeans for an hour!! Baden is a really cute town! It's not very touristy though, so I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. I went in Coop City, kind of like a department store but with food, too. I was looking for a pillow since L's extra one is shopping real feathers but the were all over 100CHF!!! We'll have to make a trip to ikea to get one cheaper! The difference in prices here is definitely going to take some getting used too. 

I think I'm going to go wander around some more before L gets off work! More later! 

Also. I totally googled "travelling" before I made this blog, but apparently I still spelled it wrong! I just re-googled it and apparently 2 L's is the British spelling, so let's just pretend I was being worldly! Whoops! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

New Blog for New Travels

Hey Friends and Family! I've started a new blog to catalog Landon's and my travels during our European Adventure! It's called Mack Travelling in the spirit of our other brewing blog Mack Spirits that has basically gone by the wayside since we got BeerSmith.

So here's the story:

In the summer/fall of 2013 Landon applied for an internship with ABB in Baden, Switzerland. ABB is an international company known for their work in power systems, robotics, and propulsion. If you've ever taken a cruise and you may have noticed that the cruise boats often begin moving by propelling themselves directly perpendicular to a dock. ABB makes the propulsion system that allows such huge ships to move in any direction. Landon learned about ABB through school at an engineering career fair and because they have a sales office on NCSU's Centennial Campus and their US headquarters and research facility is in Cary, NC.

The principle investigator (that's a science term, not sure what he's called in engineering) was very interested in Landon primarily because of the safety training he's received both in the military and at KoneCranes. Originally, however, they wanted him to come from February to May. Obviously, this wasn't possible as Landon was in class during that time. Thanks to some unpredictable and lucky (for Landon) events, they decided they could use him from May to August. From the time he was offered the position, Landon had less than two months before he left! He actually moved his last exam up by almost a week so he could get to Switzerland on time! He won't return until two days before classes start for the fall semester.

Landon has been in Switzerland for almost 8 weeks now and has really started enjoying his time in Europe. He is loving the project he's working on and really feels like he is making legitimate contributions to a very meaningful and high-value product. He (obviously!) misses having companions (me, duh.) to talk to on a regular basis and share his amazing experiences with but overall he is really enjoying his time. Since he's been there, Landon has visited most of the major Swiss cities as well as Rome, Brussels, and Cinque Terre (Italy). He's kept "journal entries" for all of his travels and I will try to upload those once I can get to his pictures.

Shortly after Landon left, I booked my trip to visit him. While booking, I somehow miss-counted my weekends. I wanted to have four weekends to travel with Landon, but somehow I ended up with five! I'm extremely lucky to be a self-employed contractor for the US EPA and can generally make my own schedule as long as I work X hours during my contract year. I also work on an awesome team that encourage things like travel and adventure! The Swiss are so awesome that they are actually giving Landon 6 paid vacation days even though he's only there for three and a half months. We're using those days to make long-weekend trips to Madrid, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna. While Landon is working, I'll use my Swiss Pass to travel all around the country and experience all the different cultures that coexist within a country that is close in area to the state of Maryland.

We will both have cell phones for emergencies but the best way to contact us is via email. We will, however, only be able to check our emails when we're at Landon's apartment or have other access to WiFi. I will try to update this blog on the train home from all of my inter-Switzerland travels but again, I can only post when I have WiFi.

We're looking forward to our travels and can't wait to come home and share our experiences with all of our friends and families.

PS, the blog background is the Matterhorn, one of the tallest and most famous peaks in Switzerland.

And here's a random picture so I can see what it looks like with the layout: