Wednesday, August 29, 2007

La Vien Rose

It's my third day in Paris. On my first day here I'd already been mildly harassed by a lonely Sri Lankan and 5 min. later a lonely Greek. Thank goodness I met an American from San Francisco 5 min. later and had someone to hang out with the rest of the day. I'm on a time limit here so I'll be quick. Notre Dame was great, got a date with Quasimodo. Last night I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and clicked my heels; went to Victor Hugo's house, the Louvre, D'Orsay. Quite a city, this Paris. I've never walked so much in my life but it's good. Balances out all the bread and chocolate. Anyway I'm alive and well, and I admit a little lonely. My journal's keeping me company. Tomorrow Versailles.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yesterday Matterhorn, Tomorrow Paris

(I was excited just to write that.) I haven`t fallen in love with any exotic European men yet, but I have fallen in love with Switzerland. Were it not for the language barrier I think I would move here. I am already planning the hikes and mountains I want to explore when I come back one day. We went to Appenzell country on Thursday (in the eastern part) and went hiking. Friday I went to the Swiss temple, which was exceptionally meaningful to me. It made me feel close to my grandparents and I felt so happy to be there. Saturday we got up early and went to the Matterhorn where we finally had a perfectly clear day. I could see everything, though I didn`t understand much. I wish I knew German. Felix` friend Susan came with us, then took us out to dinner afterward at a restaurant called Rossli (the little horse). Her sister gave me 2 kinds of honey (I prefer the forest honey to the flower honey) cause she and her husband make it on their farm. How cool is that? I decided I missed my calling in life and should have owned my own little cheese shop or been a honey maker. I mean, I want to make something people just sit down and enjoy at their breakfast table everyday. Maybe in the next life. So tomorrow I leave for Paris and will be completely on my own. I`m a little nervous but I have my Swiss army knife and tube of mustard (in case I get hungry. They have really good mustard here.) I will miss this grand little country - it`s full of surprises. But I have resolved to come back and have also resolved to get a bike and grow my own basil when I return. Au revoir.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Swiss Miss Update

It is quite something to stand on a mountain hillside overlooking valleys of farms and chapels and only hear the sound of cowbells. On Sunday after church (a small branch) we took a 3.5 hour walk in the Emmantal - a beautiful valley where a lot of the cheese comes from. We stopped at a farmer`s house for a drink (don`t worry, not wine) and he was so amazed someone from LA had come to his farm. Monday I went to the Rhine and had bratwurst in Basel, where I stood at the place where 3 countries meet: France, Germany, and Switzerland. Tuesday, we went to an old Swiss Castle on Lake Geneva (actually called Lake Leman) and also to a salt mine. Very interesting and I bought some salt to take home. Today we went to the Swiss Oberland where all the big mountains are. We saw the Jungrau and took a skyride to another mountain. The town of Grindelwald below us. The air is so refreshing and the landscape so beautiful. I`ve also learned how much the Swiss seem to dislike Bush for invading other countries. Americans are a bit unpopular right now but they are still nice to me. Most days we don`t get home til late and I`m feeling a little overwhelmed with cheese but I guess I balance it out with chocolate. It`s great having a guide to really show me my 2nd homeland. I hope I will be alright in France and Italy when I am without one.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

To Market, Spiez, and Interlaken

There`s just something about bringing your basket to market and buying fresh foods. In front of the Parliament buildling in Bern, they had everything from orange and green tomatoes to skinned rabbits hanging from the stands. A Swiss lady even gave me a rust-colored rose to place in my hair. We took the train to Spiez after and walked along Lake Thun and then took a boat to Interlaken. The water is so clear and greenish colored. Felix said they call it glacier milk. The scenery- forest, green hills, and mountains- are so beautiful, it`s hard to believe it`s real sometimes. On our way back to the train, we looked for four-leaf clovers in a nearby field. I guess Felix is more of a leprechaun than me, he found two and I found one (after he pointed it out to me). I`m trying to remember how to say hello (gruesech)in their language and not default to Bulgarian as I have been doing. I`m having a wonderful time and enjoying the pace of life here. Tomorrow I`ll go the small branch in Bern where an old couple that new grandma attend so that should be interesting. The bells are ringing again and my belly is full of bread. Time to go to bed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Swell in Switzerland

I`ve made it safely to Switzerland and am happy to sit down after the longest day of my life (what with the time difference). I`m sipping freshly made sparkling apple juice while Felix, my Swiss tour guide for 10 days, is cooking fish, shrimp, rattatuille, and krautstihl. He already made a plum pie today, just like Grandma Morgenegg`s. So, first observations: the airport was extremely quiet, a lot of people here smoke, Berne`s shutters are brightly colored and enliven the whole city, computer keyboards are harder to use, and bells make any city feel magical. Even though I`m quite fatigued, we managed to climb the church bell tower today, see the bear pit (very cool), walk through the rose garden, try five kinds of cheese, and run into the missionaries and found out where church was on Sunday. And hopefully we`ve also solved the problem of my debit card not working. So, I`m glad to be here and glad to finally come to the home of my mother, aunts, uncle and grandparents. All is well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Parting Words from LA

I've stopped over in LA for a couple of days before heading to my big adventure in Europe and already I've been hissed at, witness to a woman having 10 conversations with herself at the library, and come home to find my sublet married and having sex in my bed. My room is their honeymoon suite. I'm trying not to think about it and thank goodness my blankie (yes I still have one) was not in the room. Family members have convinced me not to ever put a black light in there. I'm not sure I want to come home. Maybe I'll finally find where I belong over there. I have to say, though, that I'm excited for this trip. It's something I've been wanting to do for quite some time and for me it's not so much a vacation as it is a journey, an investment, an experience of discovery and a re-filling of my bucket with new ideas and insight. I know, I sound like a beatnik but I'm trying to follow my drumming heart as best as I can. For those individuals intent on raining on my parade by asking, "Are you crazy?" and "How can you go to a foreign country by yourself?" I'd just like to say most crimes in Europe are non-violent and, many forums for solo women travelers talk about the freedom that can come from solitude. My inner warrior goes without fear (or atleast tries to suppress it) and as Ronald Reagan said, "In an atmosphere of liberty, artists and patrons are free to think the unthinkable and create the audacious; they are free to make both horrendous mistakes and glorious celebrations." So, I'm following the advice of Jo March's mother and I am going to embrace my liberty.