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  • Hi Germany!

    I get to Germany  to Stuttgart from where I visited Heidelberg and  Neuschwanstein, to continue my journey with “Agnes” across Bavaria in  Munich and Regensburg. This is just the first part of my journey in Germany.

    I get to Stuttgart the 13th of August as you might read in my previous post.

    Over Switzerland and the Alps

    14/08

    Stuttgart

    I decided to come to Stuttgart is it was the first mayor city in the south next to Switzerland and France. In the original plan I even thought to visit Strasbourg before getting to Germany, but at the end I thought that I should start to slowdown the frenetic rhythm I was having in Switzerland of visiting one city per day. I also chose Stuttgart as I met some really good friends in Paris when I was on my Erasmus and I wanted to know how their city was.

    Stuttgart Castle Garden

    Stuttgart Castle Square

    Stuttgart is more an industrial city rather than a touristic one. The city has basically two castles, a big cathedral, the Stiftskirche, the Mittlerer Schlossgarten which is a big garden, the castle square and a long big pedestrian street full of shops that links all of them with the train station. One-day walking in Stuttgart was more than enough. A part from this few historical buildings, the main attractions of the city are the Mercedes and Porsche Museums and the Radio tower. All of them out of the city centre and related to the industrial aspect of the city as you may observe.

    My first day in the city I wasn’t aware of all this so I went to discover it having a walk along the main pedestrian street and around the city centre visiting such monuments I’ve mention.

    I didn’t visit the interior of the castles as it is not something I consider worth it yet. I have already seen several castle interiors. I don’t feel any more like paying for seeing castles decorated with furniture of the time great kings use to live in them. In the other hand, I am always willing to visit a church or cathedral to see the style, admire the art in its altar, walls, paintings and sculptures. Here in Stuttgart the Cathedral happened to have a combination of its historical origin on the walls and the presence of the modern times on the roof. It’s understandable when you consider that it has been rebuilt after collapsing during the war.

    Stiftskirche
    The church of Saint John, which is located surrounded by an artificial pond, happened to have collapse as the Cathedral. However, the solution for its ceiling is much more simple. Instead of glass panels creating a double layer ceiling it has a horizontal white layer that efficiently covers the temple.

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    Johanneskirche
    As I had all the day to walk around and I had visit the main buildings only in the morning I just walk without direction from one area to another as I was feeling. Probably, because it was Sunday, the city was quiet, what made it look even more boring.

    Hopefully, at the afternoon people started to get out of their houses to enjoy the sun having a walk along the mayor street, the Mittlerer Schlossgarten or chilling out in the grass at the Castle square.

    Stuttgart Castle

    Stuttgart Castle

    Stuttgart Castle Garden

    Castle Garden

    After dining something I get back to the hostel. There I met my French room mates who suggested me a couple of places out of Stuttgart to visit the following day. I decided that Heidelberg might be the better option.

    15/08

    Not need to wake up early I did it when my body felt like. It was early, though. I took the train as soon as I could and went to Heidelberg.

    Heidelberg

    Heidelberg is located an hour to the north by train. It’s a small city on the river Neckar in the area of the Black Forest. This one really is a touristic city full of them everywhere. I might say that the economy of the city is based on tourism and the University students.

    The train station is 1.5 km away from the city centre so I decided to walk to it on the other side of the river. This side has a garden all along where people comes to run and chill out under the sun (at least today). From this other side you have a nice panorama view of the city next to the river and the castle on the top of it.

    Heidelberg Panorama

    Panorama of Heidelberg

    Once I get to the old bridge – Alte Brucke – I cross to get to the core of the city where all the souvenir shops, coffees and restaurants with “local” food where waiting for me. I lunch something from a close supermarket avoiding all these attractions after walking a bit around the city centre and the main square with the city hall.

    Heidelberg Old Bridge

    Alte Brucke

    Heidelberg Castle

    View from the city to the castle.

    The main attraction of the city is its Castle, to get to it you can go by walking or if you buy the ticket to visit it at the town, it includes the train that takes you to the top.

    ATTENTION: If you buy the ticket at the Tourist office you will end up paying 3€ extra for the service. If you buy the ticket at the top of the castle it will include as well the transport to the top even if you haven’t already use it.

    I didn’t get in but this time I doubt about doing it. Once I was up at the gate of the Castle they told me that there were to fees, one to visit the garden, and other to visit the castle. I asked if I could visit the garden without the Castle and they told me that this was not possible… What? Why? Then they should offer one “castle+garden” option rather than the “garden” alone?

    I get none of them and just walk around the castle. I don’t know if there’s a garden inside the castle, but surrounding it I get to the upper level garden without paying and without doing nothing illegal. Anyway, it was here where I wanted to get as it is from here where you have the amazing views of Heidelberg from the top.

    Panorama of Heidelberg

    Heidelberg from the Castle Garden

    After a long walk and a bit rest on the top watching the city I walked down to the river again and visited the main churches in town in my way back to the train station. Passing by the University, I also took my chance to get into the university building.

    Heidelberg and the Castle

    Heidelberg and the Castle

    Providenzkirche
    Heiliggeistkirche
    Jesuitenkirche
    Back to the train station I had to wait almost one hour for the next train. I used that time to taste a local beer while writing some postcards to my family and friends.

    Back in Stuttgart I found that the city was much more active when all the stores where open in the main street so I walked up and down enjoying the ambience. There was people playing music, dancing, and doing other acrobatics for some coins all along the street.

    That day I felt like having a Kebab so I went for it. I keep thinking that the best Kebabs are in Germany, probably in Berlin, but the ones here were probably as good as the ones from Berlin.

    Back in the hostel while profiting of the low speed Wi-Fi at the bar I had the chance to observe the ritual of flirting between travellers. No mysteries.

    Guy likes girl.

    Guy ask a stupid question about the city to the girl.

    Question followed by another question and you have a long night conversation.

    16/08

    Neuschweinstein Castle

    Neuschweinstein Castle was built by the king Ludwig II of Bavaria to show his magnificence. Building it he spent all the money of the kingdom almost bankrupting. The castle was built in 1881.

    I left the hostel early in the morning to get to Füssen, the village next to Neuschweinstein Castle. The castle is located in the south of Germany next to the border with Ostrich in a hill. From the village that is in a flat valley you can see the high mountains of the Alps as happened in Torino.

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    Neuschweinstein Castle

    Once you get to the train station of Füssen, the public transport to the castle is perfectly calculated. There’s a shuttle bus for 2.80€ that takes you up to the ticket store of the castle. The bus leaves the train station 3 minutes after the train arrives. Time enough if you already know which is the bus. If you invest a little time asking or reading the schedules of the bus you risk to see it leave the station as you try to reach it. Yes, it happened to me but hopefully, also happened to 3 Korean guys as well. The problem is that there is no other shuttle until the next train arrives one hour later.

    The only way to get there not wanting one hour was by walking the 4.5 km between both places or getting a taxi. I ask for a taxi and they had a fix price of 11€ to get to the castle. The solution was to tell the Korean that we can split the ride and pay 3€ each. It would be 20 cents more expensive but we won’t need to wait. They accepted and we pay the driver 12€.

    As I was approaching the ticket case for the castles I read that today everything was sold out for Neuschweinstein Caslte. Dam it! I was not willing to visit the rooms of the castle but the inner courtyard. Looking at the castle and the mountain behind I thought that if I was not about to visit the Castle I had time to hike the mountain behind it.

    I store my backpack at the nearest hotel for 5€ and start walking to the castle. What a surprise, when I found that I could get into the courtyard of the castle without paying.

    Neuschweinstein Castle Courtyard

    Neuschweinstein Castle Courtyard

    As preview, from there I went to hike the nearest mountain to admire the classic view of the castle we see in all the postcards but in life. What you don’t get in the postcards is the amazing feeling of the nature all around you, the feeling of have hiked an easy but steep mountain.

    Neuschweinstein Castle

    Neuschweinstein Castle

    I had my picture from the top, now was time to get the picture from beneath the bridge. This is not so typical, but more challenging and the sound of the river and the waterfall made it more unique.

    When I get back to the ticket store from the castle I still had time to the next train so I went to walk to the lake between the two Castles. As I wasn’t tired enough and still had time, in the way back to the train station I walked the 4.5 km to Füssen with my backpack. It reminded me of when I walked the Way of Saint-Jacques (El Camino de Santiago) last Easter.

    From Füssen I went to Munich where I was about to encounter my first visit from Spain. As she asked me for some privacy and not to reveal her real name for personal reasons I will name her as “Agnes”.

    Munich

    I met Agnes at the train station little after getting there. She did book a room for us in a hostel not far away from the train station neither from the city centre. So kind from her as it takes me a lot of time to fond host and I need of Wi-Fi which I don’t get as often as I wish.

    After installing in the hostel we went for a night walk in town looking for something to eat. As beginners, we end up eating a shitty expensive slice of pizza.

    Night Rathaus von Munster

    City Hall by night

    17/08

    Breakfast was included in the hostel and I must admit it was a full tasty breakfast. We get full eating in order to save one lunch along the day.

    As it was the first day for both of us in the city we went out of the hostel ready to walk up and down all the old city of Munich

    Munich was a city founded by Benedictine Monks. Now a day is a financial city. The third biggest of Germany and the Capital of the Bavarian Region.

    We left the hostel to go to the city hall and find out which was the old one and the new one. The new one looks like old as well and the old one is now the Toy’s Museum. Behind this Museum there’s a statue of Julieta with one breast shinier than the other. Do you figure out why? Probably if you touch it you will be lucky in sex, or probably people just like to touch her tit.

    Just in front of Julieta there is a Market full of life in the mornings. We thought that we might come later to eat here but we were about to find out that in the evening there’s no more activity here.

    From the centre we walked towards the English Garden. In the way we passed the Theatinerkirche and the Hofgarten in front of the Bayerische Staatskanzlei.

    Theatinekirche
    Hofgarten

    At the English garden we saw the surfers on the stream of the river and we went to have a Wurst and a Beer below the Chinese Pagoda. We kept walking along the garden to the lake.

    English Garten Pagoda

    English Garten Pagoda

    We had planned, that here we would take a public transport to get to the Olympic area. However, being at that point, we decided that walk across the city won’t kill us and will allow us to see the non-touristic Munich. We crossed Luitpodpark and get to the BMW Museum. Here we both gave our contact details to get a ride in an old BMW

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    Crossing the street, we get to the area where the Olympic Games took place in 1972. Probably you will remember this Olympic Games because of the terrorist attack. The area of the games was full of activities. Probably because it was summer time, but there was people all around. It was like a Festival. Games and attractions for kids, food and drink trucks and sport activities. We couldn’t avoid talking of how the area of the Expo-92 or certain areas of the Olympic Games of Barcelona 92 were now in comparison.

    Munich Olympic Garden

    Munich Olympic Garden

    Far away from the city centre we walked all the way back to our hostel. In the way we visited the area of the museums. Like in Berlin here the main museums are grouped in one area of the city next to Königsplatz.

    Konigsplatz

    Konigsplatz

    To chill out a little bit we decided that being in Germany we should visit one of the Beer bars, so we went to Hofbräuhaus to have a beer. In Germany this kind of bars are filled with long wood tables and long benches. The perfect place to make friends. You just need to take a place and wait. We meet our full table. Three girls from Asturias, one German and one Paraguayan. Yes, we end up speaking Spanish. And I must say that the German had a really good Paraguayan accent.

    After the beer it was time to finish the day in the perfect German style having one Kebab in the nearest Durum Kebab.

    18/08

    As we planed the previous day while walking we went to Dachau after our full breakfast. We took the train at the main station to the centre of the village of Dachau and there a bus to the Concentration Camp Memorial – What a name, isn’t it?

    Dachau

    In the way to Dachau Agnus told me that the years after the war, the people of Dachau felt really shame of being so close to such terror that they even erased or hided the name of Dachau from the plaques of their cars. No one wanted to show that they were citizens of this town.

    The entrance to the Memorial is free. It would have been funny if someone were getting benefit of the Holocaust. However, the Audioguide was 3€. We took it to get well informed about everything. I expected to spend the full morning there. But our visit took us the full day and at the end we need to hurry up to get to see it all.

    The Concentration Camp Memorial of Dachau is not big compare to other Concentration Camps. At least not what you can visit now a day. Big part of it has been transform into factories and the two barracks that still in place are a reconstruction of the former ones. The entrance, the main building and the crematory are however originals. And it was in the main building, full of information about the Holocaust, the concentration camps network and the second world war where we spent most of our visit.

    Dachau was one of the first Prisoner Camps of the Nazis. The first prisoners here were the enemies of the Nazis, mainly Politics and activists against the ideologies of Hitler. The camp was a former Munition factory converted by Theodore Eicke in the model of all the concentration camps.

    The day was clouded what made the visit a little more spectacular. However, as Agnus said, it’s difficult to real feel what a concentration camp was when the plants are green the weather is warm, everything is clean and there are pretty ladies all around.

    Dachau - Arbait Macht Frei

    Dachau

     

    H

    Dachau

    Dachau

    Anecdote

    As it seemed that a storm was coming we visited first the field and open areas of the camp before the rain. We were next to the religious memorials and the crematory when it started raining. And how ironic that we ended finding refuge from the rain in the crematory as the memorials were all closed.

    In a moment that the rain stopped we walked across the field again back to the main building. It was when we were walking in the middle of the esplanade when it started raining again. Everyone started running looking for a place to hide and in a while I remained in the middle of a deserted concentration camp under the rain. It was an experience! Images of what would have been a cold winter there with such a hostile ambience came to my mind.

    Dachau - Crematorium

    Dachau - Memorial

    We spent the rest of the visit and the day reading all the exhibition in the main building. Not to get to long explaining to you all what we learn there I will suggest you to go visit it. What impress Agnus the must was how big and perfect was the network of concentration camps. The Nazis get to create a perfect deadly system.

    In the other hand, I get lost in the anecdotic facts of the life inside the camp: the hospital where doctors experimented with prisoners; Sex in the camp to keep the prisoners active; The few that get to escape; The liberation that took months; women’s life in the camps; and many more.

    Dachau

    After such a dose of terror in the way back to Munich to contrast we encounter several groups of Germans dressed with the typical Bavarian costume. It looked like a fest was taking place in one of the nearest villages.

    Bavarian GirlBavarian Girl

    Back in Munich we went for a little walk and dinner something next to the hostel we were staying.

    19/08

    In the morning after our great breakfast I separate from Agnus to go to Regensburg and then to Nuremberg. Agnus stayed to meet some friends in Munich and later she will meet me again in Nuremberg.

    Regensburg

    Regensburg is a medieval city situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers.

    Considering that the city centre is an UNESCO World Heritage Site I simply let myself get lost in the city centre and visited the main historic buildings.

    Cathedral

    Cathedral or Dome of St. Peter.

    The medieval stone bridge which was under restauration. As a local told me it has been like that for 2 years and it will take 2 more years until they finish the works.

    The abbey of St. Emmerams might be the site that I liked the most together with the murals and paintings in the façades.

    abbey of St. Emmerams


    Abbey of St. Emmerams

    Abbey of St. Emmerams

    After spending the day walking I took a train to Nuremberg. This time I had the chance to talk with a German who was waiting next to me at the platform and we spoke all the way till Nuremberg. After introducing each other, our lives, interest and my journey, he also told me some facts about the Regensburg and Nuremberg.

    CONTINUE ->

  • Blog
  • Over Switzerland and the Alps

    Old Bridge of Luzerne

    Achieving a dream, across Switzerland I discovered a land I had in my mind for long time. I miss Geneva, but travelled across Lausanne, Bern, Luzern, Basel and end up partying in Zurich.

    09/08

    Wake up in Milan. Breakfast in the way to the train station and here comes the stress. At the amazing fascist train station of Milan there was a huge queue to get the train tickets. I just had 20 minutes to be on my train and with the Interrail pass I couldn’t get my ticket in the automatic machines. It would have been faster that way. The train of my friend was leaving 10 minutes before mine. She had to leave and my stress kept my mind away of the fact that it might be a long time from now that we meet again.

    After a long cosy hug, she left and I came back to the queue. I get my train ticket just 5 minutes before the departure of the train. More than enough! The travel was comfortable and the landscape better and better as we get across the Alps. Tunnels and viaduct were one after the other. Huge trees al around and big mountains and not to forget the clouds and could weather. We were in the Swiss Alps. I stope in Brig as first stop in Switzerland. There I catch a train to Bern. This train was an Intercity train, less fancy, but much better than any of the trains of the same category in Spain, France or Italy.

    Anecdote

    At the train from Brig to Bern I was traveling with my backpack in the seat next to me.

    Photo with my backpack.

    I normally seat where seats are face to face with or without table. I like this place as it is where you can meet more people. However, this time I was on my own. In the upper flor of the train, next to me, in the other side of the corridor, there was a couple chatting and using their Mobil phone. The train was almost empty.

    When we arrived to Bern I get my backpack on my back and walk downstairs to exit the train. Just in the stairs the guy seated next to me, tall, pale skin and blond hair stopped me.

    “Hi Rodrigo” he said to me.

    I was impressed, how did this guy knew me? Have we met before? I answered back with my best poker face not to show how confuse I was. “Hi”

    He introduced himself and ask me about my trip to Australia. Then I realize that he has checked my website on the ride. We talked about this adventure while we get down from the train. He even asked me where I was about to stay in Bern. I wonder if he was about to offer me an accommodation. Anyway, I had a couchsurfer waiting for me.

    Bern

    I get to Bern a couple of hours before my appointment with my couchsurfer host. Load with my backpack I decided to go for a walk on the city to see a bit of it. Bern city centre is enough small that I get to visit it all even the interior of the cathedral in that time. I was dressed to a warm sunny weather and here it was cold and it even started raining after a while. “Welcome to winter!” I thought.

    City Centre of Bern

    Old town of Bern

    Malwina, my host is originally from Poland. She picked me up at the train station and after buying some stuffs at the supermarket she took me to her place.

    It happens that in Switzerland they have to main supermarket companies, Coop and Migros. If you are a real Swiss you just go to one of those grocery stores. The others are no national so are unquestionable. But really surprise me that even if the price and the products are almost the same, each citizen grow up going to Coop or to Migros and you can distinguish families according to where they do the grocery.

    At home we had dinner and chat about architecture, as Malwina is as well an architect, about Switzerland, and Poland. She recommends me a couple of places to visit en bith counties and she told me what was to be a Polish intern in a Swiss architectural studio.

    After the nice dinner, we went to bed.

    10/08

    Lausanne

    I woke up with a little headache and feeling pain in my throat. I was getting seek. Getting cold and wet the previous day had its consequences. However, a little pain is not going to ruin my day, not at the beginning of my trip. I had a shower, some cookies and fruit to breakfast and I went to the city centre of Bern with Malwina. She had to work and I decided to go visiting Lausanne. The time forecast predicted sun there and rain and clouds for Bern.

    This time in the train I had not the chance to talk with no one. As I was feeling sick I tried to rest a bit more, but the landscape attracted me so much.

    Lausanne is a city in the lake Leman in the boarder with France next to Genève and in front of the French city of Neuvecelle. It’s a small city with no more than 150k inhabitants. The city is located in a hill in front of the lake so the streets are sometimes quite steep. It’s not much of a challenge, but it’s not what I will recommend you if you have a headache.

    At the central square there is a market and a great building which hosts the public library and several science museums. The building itself appealed me so I came in. the building is distributed by a great main staircase that traverse the building from the front to the rear of the building crossing the patio in the middle. From these stairs in every floor there is a different museum or the library. All of them arranged by sections. From the top of the stair there is a nice view downwards.

    Library of Lausanne

    Library of Lausanne

    From here I went uphill and what would you say I found on the hill in the city centre? Yes, a church. The cathedral of Lausanne and a nice panorama view from some kind of wall. I thought is part of an ancient defensive wall but now is more a panorama garden.

    Panorama of Lausanne

    Panorama of Lausanne

    I was walking really slow that day, I could feel how fast I run out of energy and had to do everything slower. At the church I stopped for a while and admire the sculpture in the “solarium” they have on one side. If you have a look to the windows here, they are prepared to recover energy from the sun.

    From now on, the way was downhill to the lake. I cross the city through the more commercial streets. It was full of activity. It is evident that people likes to go for a walk on sunny warm days. I wonder how it is in winter time. Also, the city was full of tourist or where them immigrants from all Europe? I could hear Spanish, Italian, English, a melting pot of languages. Well, they were both, Immigrants and tourist. Most of the times it was easy to distinguish one from the other.

    Gardens of Lausanne

    Gardens of Lausanne

    Across several gardens I got to the lakeside with some food I bought in a supermarket. Switzerland is expensive I can tell that. One salad a sandwich and some juice around 10 Euros.

    At the lakeside I sat next to the exit of the sailboats at the shade. Watching people picnicking and others amusing themselves in their boats. I thought that someday, probably not far from now I have to improve my sailing skills to go sailing. I even suggest myself to go asking someone in the shipyard if I could come on board with them and help him on the boat. If I hadn’t got this pain on my head and I had felt much more awake and not this lack of energy I would have done it. Next time might be.

    Shipyard of Lausanne

    Shipyard of Lausanne

    As the city wasn’t a big thing and I wasn’t feeling good I just rested watching the activity in the lakeside.

    On my way back to the train station I took the way through the Olympic Games Museum. Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games were taking place at the time I passed by, and you can feel it on the Museum. They were even recording the name of Rio de Janeiro in the stairs.

    Stairs of the Olympic Games Mussem

    Stairs of the Olympic Games Mussem

    Around the Museum there is a wonderful open space perfect to chill out. I didn’t. The heat of the sun on my head was making me feel worst.

    On the train back to Bern I slept and when I woke up at Bern I felt a bit better. In Bern I went again for a day walk. Here, as the forecast predicted, it was mostly clouded and raining from time to time. But when the sun shined the panorama was beautiful.

    Panorama of Bern

    Panorama of Bern

    That night when Malwina catch me up we went to the supermarket to buy the necessary vegetables to prepare a Pisto. I wanted to grate her for been so kind hosting me. The Pisto was good regarding that we couldn’t find everything.

    Even if I was tired I couldn’t sleep until late. There was something happening with my body. I did my best as next they I had to wake up early to go visiting Luzern before getting to Basel.

    11/08

    I woke up almost recovered of my sickness. No headache, no feeling uncomfortable on my throat. What I did was to cover myself all night even if I was feeling hot. Sweeting while sleeping helped me.

    In the morning I went to the top of the Church of Bern before getting my train to Luzerne. The panorama from there is worth the visit. Unfortunately, some areas were close as they were under restoration.

    Panorama of Bern from the tower

    Panorama of Bern from the tower

    Luzerne

    The day was shining in Luzerne and since I get out from the modern train station I felt radiant. Everything was colourful and I could feel something positive all around.

    Luzerne is a city in the lakeside of a lake named before the city. It is located in the German area of Switzerland and is almost the same side of Lausanne. However, this city looks more modern at the time that it had more historical remains. At least that was my first impression.

    Next to the train station there is a modern building that is the Art Museum. In front of both buildings there is an esplanade that ends in the lake with the city centre at the other side of the bridge.

    Something that made my visit to Luzerne particular is that I did it all carrying my backpack. I tried to drop it at one of the storage at the train station but they were all taken and after almost 45 minutes waiting I decided to carry it on with me not to waste more time at the train station.

    To get to the other side I crossed the old wood bridge with the stone tower. I think this is the main picture of Luzerne. A bridge with colour flowers in both sides that shine with the reflection of the light over the blue lake. The swans and duck make the picture even more fantastic.

    Timber Bridge of Luzerne

    Bridge of Luzerne

    In the city centre I did a circular tour counter clockwise starting with the Cathedral and then to the garden of the Lion Carved on the Rock. This Lion is a memorial to the Swiss soldiers that died at the French court of Louis XVI when the French revolution took place. During this period, it seems that 40 000 Swiss soldiers were fighting under other countries or states banners. This regiments were named the Swiss mercenaries.

    Cathedral of Luzerne

    Cathedral of Luzerne

    Lion Memorial

    Lion Memorial

    Luzerne is more a flat city however it has some hills. They are not as high neither the streets as steep as those of Lausanne, though. However, the city walls and the defensive towers of the ancient Luzerne where on top of one of them. I was feeling good so loaded with my 13kg backpack I went up to the top of the wall and the first tower and the second, and the third. As I was enjoying very much all the exercise I was doing up steep narrow stairs encountering people and for sure the panoramas from the top I even climb the forth tower. It was worth doing it.

    Panorama of Luzerne

    Panorama of Luzerne

    Back to the ground to the lake level I just get myself lost walking in the city centre. Most of the buildings here are historical and they are decorated with paintings on the walls. It would be like graffitis but from the XVI or XVII century. The show some of the traditions of the local people at that time.

    The lakeside was full of activity. There was a lot of people, mostly tourist walking along the lake, others having a drink or grabbing a bite at the terraces. There were also those who played music or entertained the kids with foam bubbles to get some cash in reward. As the day was sunny and I was feeling great but tired I went to the nearest supermarket where I bought myself a Sandwich and a drink. This time I manage to spend no more than 7 Euros. I’m improving my skills here.

    Luzerne lakeside

    Luzerne lakeside

    I sat down in the esplanade in front of the Art museum and the train station watching once more the boats, the people and the swans.

    Old Bridge of Luzerne

    Old Bridge of Luzerne

    At about 17:00 I get on the train on my way to Basel where my second couchsurfer host met me at the train station.

    Basel

    Once in Basel I encounter Jenni, my new host. She is a Swiss journalist who studied and grew and now works in Switzerland. However, whenever she can she likes to go travelling. This time there weren’t many conversations about architectural technical topics. This time we talked more about art, history and Swiss topics.

    With her I learnt how Switzerland is organised by Cantons and how laws and taxes are different regarding the different Cantons. Also she told me about Switzerland politics in the world and the Swiss army.

    Most of the people thinks that Switzerland has no army, and theoretically it is like that. However, every citizen has to make a military service just in case. The idea is that every Swiss citizen should be ready to defend their country in case of an attack at the time they preserve their neutrality not having a regular army as the other countries.

    After dropping my backpack and having a shower Jenni took me for a walk to the city centre. Basel is a bit bigger than the previous cities I’ve been in Switzerland, but still a small one. The city is divided by the Rhine river. Both sides where protected with a city wall that doesn’t exist anymore. On one side of the river, where there is the city centre, there were most of the churches and the houses of the noble and wealthy citizens of Basel. In the other side lived the people that give services and worked for the high-class.

    After a fast view of the city we stopped for a hamburger next to the river and we went to an open air concert of African music in a platform over the river. It was full of people. Regarding Jenni, that was normal as normally there is not much to do in Basel, so whenever there is an activity, everyone goes there.

    12/08

    We woke up early next morning. As Jenni let me stay at her place while she was at work I took my time to look for accommodation by couchsurfing, hostels and others for the rest of my trip.

    Finding accommodation

    It takes a lot of time to improvise while travelling as must hostels gets full and prices rise. I found that sometimes if you book a room for the same or the next day in booking or any other web sometimes you find price reductions.

    Regarding couchsurfing I found that it is much harder to travel as a male than as a female. Unfortunately for me I found that there are a lot of male host that only accept females. Why? You get your conclusions. I realised that as they only have references of female surfers. I tried asking them to host me as well with a nice request as I do always. Most of them just answer “I can’t host you” in a short message if they answer you.

    After sending several requests and checking some hostels I went out for a walk in Basel.

    Basel is much a modern city full of modern architecture and it is where architects such as Herzog and de Meuron are based. Next to Jenni’s home is their railway Switchtower.

    Rail Switchtower

    Rail Switchtower

    Following the railways, I get to the Central train station which is connected to the core of the city by a commercial street full of life from noon till late afternoon. I passed by a church now transform into the Museum fur Geschichte and followed the main street to the Rathaus, the City Hall.

    Rothaus Basel

    Rothaus Basel

    I decided to get a bit lost in town and I get to Basel Munster, Basel Cathedral with twin spires and the museum of Culture.

    Behind this ecclesiastic building there is a panorama view of the river. In this river as in most of the rivers here you can swim. What people does is the jump in the water with a hermetic bag with all their belongings and get out of the river a couple of metres down the river. You just need to let free yourself to the stream.

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    Panorama of the Rin

    I crossed the river to the “poor” side of the city. There I had a snack. As everything is so expensive here I end up having a burger in McDonalds. I must admit it. It’s being really long time I regret going to McDonald, Burger King. In terms of fast food I just accept Kebab and nice sandwiches.

    In this side you might find the church of St. Clara and a nice garden nearby which name I never knew. The time was perfect to chill out in one of the terraces nearby if you can afford their prices. Also they were preparing some kind of concert in one side of it. Probably something for the night. Today is Friday!

    I keep my walk until the next bridge down the river. Back on the side of the city centre, at the right there is the Studio of Herzog and de Meuron and a little forward, one of the old entrance to the old town.

    Old Entrance to Basel

    Old Entrance Tower to Basel

    I followed what was supposed to be the wall of the city linking all the gates of the city. In my way I came by the university and the university hospital. Both seemed to me so modern. Although the buildings were in the city centre, they were barely new. It could be seen how this area was regenerating itself little by little.

    I get to the synagogue of the city in what I considered was the Jewish area as nearby was the Jewish museum as well.

    From this area I went back to the city centre to visit the church of St. Leonard where was the hot Pokemon point of the city. Again a square full of people looking to their electronic devices talking between them from time to time. This point is in a hill in the city centre. If from here you go to the rathaus you may pass by a couple of picturesque narrow steep streets.

    Back down I pass by the church of St. Elizabeth which tower you can visit for free. However you are invited to drop some tip, which I did. I get to the top 5 minutes before o’clock and waited at the clock work to the time the bells toll. I almost forget about it but I saw a mother and a daughter waiting for it and I simply join them.

    Next to this church is a sculpture of Richard Serra. One of my favourite sculptures due to how he works with the corten steel to modify the environment. One of his games is to open and constrict your surrounding while you walk across his sculptures.

    Panorama of Basel

    Panorama of Basel

    In the way back to meet Jenni I passed by the supermarket to buy whatever was necessary to prepare that night some fajitas and guacamole to thank her for hosting me. We ate at her terrace and I’m happy she did like my cooking.

    We had a beautiful night watching the stars and talking about the neighbourhood, Swiss people, my favourite topic, travels among others.

    As she was working next day early morning, after dinning we went to bed.

    13/08

    Once again we wake up early. Jenni left the apartment at 7:00. Once again I took my chance to answer some Couchsurfing declinations and confirmations as well as confirming some hostels.

    Thanks to the fact that a friend will join me at Munich and she would take care of the accommodation there, finding something for Stuttgart was ok by now.

    Once everything ready I load my backpack and went to the train station to catch next train to Zurich.

    Zurich

    The train to Zurich was full of people disguised. The girls next to me were dressed like pink bunnies as the ones from Playboy. Another group was more like heavy rock. At Zurich that Saturday was about to take place one of the greatest Street Parades of Europe.

    Once in the train station of Zurich you can have a preview of how crazy was about to be the afternoon. I went to drop my backpack in a locker at the train station, and surprisingly I get to store it in less time than the time I’d been waiting in Luzerne.

    Light, I went to visit the main spots of the city before attending to the inevitable Street Parade. From the train station the first stop is the castle nearby.

    Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum

    Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum

    On the other side of the Limmat river you have the city centre where I went for a walk around the city on the streets I could and to visit some of its churches and the main tower. As it’s coming to be a habitude, I went to its top to have a panoramic view of the city.

    From there to the lake everything was occupied by the young and no so young people waiting for the party.

     

    Panorama of Zurich

    Panorama of Zurich

    Before getting to Zurich everyone told me about how snob was the city and the people that lives in it. They told me that as you approach to the city you can see more and more expensive cars. Also that a casual way of dressing will be out of place as everyone there is dressed as fancy as they can. One way or another, I had a completely different impression.

    Parade dresscode

    Parade dresscode

    Once back to the ground, I decide to join the party. I went to where the parade was coming. I found a nice place surrounded by nice people who were getting drunk little by little. As you can imagine that gave place to a couple of anecdotes that I’m not going to publish here. Maybe I can tell you some if we meet on the way.

    Zurich Street Parade 2016

    Zurich Street Parade 2016

    Meeting People - Street Parade Zurich

    Meeting People – Street Parade Zurich

    I really had fun at the party and meet a bunch of people. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the party get to its climax, as I had to get to Stuttgart where I was about to spend my night.

    I get late to Stuttgart so I simply walked to the train station to the hostel I was staying at and rest after a warm shower.

    Switzerland has been a magnificent experience Let’s see what is awaiting me in Germany.

  • Blog
  • Au sud de la France

    In the way out from Spain, the first stop is France. Here I travel along the south from Henday to Ventimiglia, visiting Toulouse and old friends in Nice. To cross this country by train has been an adventure itself.

    Starting Late

    01/08

    I was supposed to wake up early to catch the Euskotren to Henday at 5:00 am. But after two nights sleeping 3 hours I woke up later than expected and get to the train station at 5:02. Two minutes in terms of trains timing changed my day from getting to Toulouse at 12:30 to get there at 15:50. Having to catch the train that departed 15 minutes later did not allow me to get the easiest combination that went to Toulouse so I had to went to Bordeaux to later catch a train to Toulouse. Until here everything is alright. The accumulative delay was supposed to take only 2 hours more. To this we have to add a couple of inconvenience on the way. We stayed almost one hour stopped in Montauban due to a suicidal between Carcassonne and Toulouse. In this journey I will find out that the railways in France are not at all as good as I expected.

    Toulouse

    Once in Toulouse I went straight to the Hostel. It is located behind the Cathedral of Saint Sernin. A nice area with several bars in the nearest square and drug dealers hunting tourists. After check in I drop my backpack at the room and went for a walk. The next day I had a ticket to leave the city at 13:00 so in total I will be in town for less than 24 hours. I had to optimise my time there to enjoy and discover the city.

    Panorama Toulouse

    Panorama of the Daurade

    First I went for a walk along the river Garonne. Pass behind the city walls to get to the place all Pokemon hunters concentrate in the city. La Daurade is a garden in the banks of the river which is the perfect spot to chill out and have a drink. As the weather is sunny and warm this garden is full of people. Continuing the river is the Church of Notre-Dame de la Daurade where you can find a peculiar Black Madonna.

    The Quai de la Daurade continues to the “Pont Neuf” where I turn into the city to get lost in his streets and observe the urbanism and culture. First I went South and then turned East to went back North. Toulouse city centre is arranged in imperfect squares and streets that goes North-South and East-West.

    I came across the Museum of Jacobins to get to the Capitol square before getting back to the Basilique de Saint Sernin. The square of the Capitol is the mayor square of the city in front the City Hall and the Capitol Theatre. In the centre of the square there is a 12-point star with the zodiacs on it.

    The Basilica of Saint Sernin is a medieval basilica with a stunning tower. It’s believe that in the basilica they store one of the thorns from the Crown of Thorns of Christ.

    Sunset was coming so I decided to get some take away on the city and went back to La Daurade to enjoy the sunset from there. Chilling out next to the river let me pay attention to the people that was living the city at the time.

    After an hour there I went back to the hostel to prepare how I was about to continue my trip and next day adventure.

    02/08

    Before going to the train station I went for a walk. This time I went north from the hostel to the Japanese Garden where people were doing sport, stretching and having a walk in the early morning. This garden has the name of Japanese as they have a real Japanese garden with a reproduction of a Japanese house.

    Japanese Garden Toulouse

    the Japanese Garden.

    After a long morning at the garden, I went to the south of the city and visit the Cathedral of Toulouse. This Cathedral has the particularity of being built in two parts which are not in line one with the other.

    After picking back my backpack at the hostel I went straight to the train station where I started my greatest adventure on a train

    Train to Nice

    The train departs from Toulouse at 12:57 to get to Nice at 19:30 where my friend Benedetta will await me to dinner. At the Train station, 20 minutes before departing, it is announced a delay of 1:30. All of a sudden it disappeared so I address myself to the platform. There was the train waiting for the passengers. Once in the train we leave Toulouse 10 minutes later than expected. But that is too much expecting for a 4:30 train in France. In the way we stopped at Carcassonne for almost one hour due to another suicide on the rail to Béziers. There we received free meal as reward – Cold pasta salad, water, cookies, bread, juice and some candies. We stopped once again in the middle of the rail a couple of times due to several problems on the way, but the greatest one was in a small village between Marseille and Nice where we had to wait almost two hours. It happened that there was one train stuck on the way. They needed to detach our machine to get catch the other train and bring it back so we can continue our way.

    Nice

    Finally, in Nice at 23:30 I get to my friends’ place where they were waiting for me after dinner. They had cook nice pasta for me that I hadn’t the chance to taste as when I get there I had already eaten something at the train. They offered me however some ice-cream and Italian liqueur.

    03/08

    Next morning, we all wake up early and I went for a walk in town. First up hill to the “Castle”. There is not a Castle, but the ruins of a Basilica at the top and for sure a great Panorama of the city. From the top of the Hill of the Castle – East from the Old Town.

    IMG_1117_stitchWEB-min

    Panorama of Nice

    From there I descend to the old town and zig-zag on it visiting the different churches and great houses there.

    Church of Saint-Jaques le Majeur

    Cathedral Saint-Reparete

    Church of Saint-Matin and Saint-Augustin

    PANO_20160803_115129-min

    Prefacture Palace and the Flowers Market

    From there I walk West by the Opera and the City Hall to get to the Garden of Albert I and to the Rue de France which is one of the main commercial streets in town.

    In Nice you can easily see the contrast between the rich people that lives and visits the city in summer time and the not so rich, locals and immigrants that works giving services to the first ones.

    I went north to the train station to get my ticket to Torino the following day. I changed my plan of going to Milan as Vittorio, the boyfriend of my friend Benedetta, who is from Torino convinced me.

    At the train station I had a curious Anecdote.

    Waiting out of the station checking the timetables with my phone before asking inside to book the tickets a guy approaches me. He stopped in front of me and said “Salam”. I turn my face up with a soft smile and looked at him to his eyes. The he continued asking me with a foreign accent “Arab?”. I smiled more and answered him “Unfortunately not”. That made me feel that sometimes I seem Arab which might be of use once I get to the Middle East Countries.

    For lunch time I went back to the Port where I started my walk that morning to Chez Pipo. One of the main dishes to taste here is the Succo. It is a bread oven what normally you combine with some salad and Pizza. I have to say, that the salad they suggest me really disappointed me as there was nothing else but green leaves.

    After lunch I walk along the west coast from the port where the people goes for a sunbath over the rocks. Here there is less people than in the main beach that links the Castle Hill with the Airport, but there is less place and is all about rocks.

    Beach of Nice

    After chilling a little here, I went back to the Port to visit the church of Notre-Dame du Port and from there across Garibaldi Square and the area of Carabacel to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption on the Avenue Jean Medecin.

    Garibaldi-Nice

    Back to meet Vittorio I took this main commercial avenue and followed the Promenade du Paillon till I arrive to the Piazza Garibaldi. There we had a beer talking about architecture, Couchsurfing, travels and other of our common interest.

    At about 19:00 we meet with Beni at their place where other female friends came for an appetizer at then we went to a concert with an inexistent appetizer at stARTup. The concert wasn’t that great and the appetizer not more than a bunch of peanuts.

    At the end we were not satisfied so we went to dinner to a nice bar in the avenue of the Market. The bar, named Le Safari, was expensive, but with good local food. There I meet an Italian couple friends of Beni and Vitto. With them we shared adventures and comments about architecture, life philosophy and travels. They also talk me about things to do in Italy while visiting next week.

    Friends Nice Le Safari

    Next to dinner we went for a nice Ice-Cream and back home as next day we had to wake up early as Beni had her flight early morning and one hour later I will start my adventure to Italy. Hope there the trains are better than in France.

  • Blog
  • Farewell Spain

    Last weeks of July I spent them across Spain, from Malaga to San Sebastián meeting friends and relatives to create some new memories that will remain in our hearts.

    Malaga

    The 20th I left Malaga and a wealthy life there. I quit my job, left my house, sold my belongings and enjoy until the last minute my friends. Last days in Malaga I even happened to meet new amazing people that I wished I had met them before, as the few days and hours we spent together seemed too little for me.

    Sevilla

    In Sevilla I stayed at my mum’s spending most of my free time with her as she is the one I am going to miss the most even if after a week whit all the nervousness we end up arguing a couple of times. It had been a month almost since my last time in the city, so I tried to meet this time all my friends and colleges I still in contact with to enjoy one more time together. I was so emotive to see them that even forget to take pictures of the meetings (sorry readers).

    Sevilla

    “Hosting till the last minute”

    I didn’t expect, but during my last days in Sevilla, Ana, a Couchsurfer that had already spent one weekend with me in Cadiz, came to our place. Instead of staying for 3 nights as we talk at the beginning, she stayed until I left. It’s because of the people like her that I have met in Couchsurfing that I want to do Couchsurfing along my journey. Hosting Ana happened to be very helpful as she shared with me not only great moments in HellVille (Hell + Seville), but also all her knowledge about shopping in Decathlon and preparing a backpack.

    Couchsurfing

    Madrid

    After Sevilla I went to Madrid to meet one of my childhood best friends and my aunt from Mexico. I took the chance of being in Madrid to buy some last things I where missing like a shaving machine or sandals. As it was not my first time in Madrid and the weather was really hot, I didn’t walk much along the city. Just went to el Retiro and around the city centre.

    Madrid in familyMadrid in family

    The night with my friend Amanda, she took me to a place called Hamburgesa Nostra at Bilba metro. I must admit it was delicious. So if you ever have the chance, try it.

    Madrid

    From Madrid to San Sebastian I went by BlaBlaCar. I had the chance to meet a guy who also loves to travel and has work along Spain and America. We spent most of the travel talking about travels, life experiences, Mexico and the Basque Country. It is incredible how easily I happen to meet really interesting people.

    Donostia – San Sebastian

    In Donosti I stayed with my dear friend Goocha and Marta. Both friends from the time I use to live there. As every time I come to Donosti I meet again Nahiko, one of those friends that no matter how long it takes without talking, when we meet each other it seems that we have always been there. But the what was new this time was meeting Marta’s friend Ainara. Such a nice girl from Lo Viejo. It is so emotional to come back to people you haven’t seen in a long time and feel like time has not pass by in your relationship. We talked and had fun as the first time we met. I have the feeling that this is not going to be the last time I feel something similar.

    San Sebastian

    From Donosti-San Sebastian we went hiking the Udalaitz which might be the next story to tell.

    Udalaitz

    Now the travel continues north. From Hendaya across France.

  • Blog
  • From Sevilla to Sochi

    It took me long to decide how long I would stay in Europe, there are many places I want to visit and many friends to meet in the way. Finally I decided that crossing Europe shouldn’t take longer that a couple of month as my real goal is to discover Asia and Oceania.
    First I thought of crossing the continent by hitchhiking but not to take to long I end up buying an Interrail Pass so I will be travelling by Train. Interrail ends in Poland so in Ukraine and Belarus and Rusia I will have to combine, car, bus and train to keep on going.
    This schedule is a sketch of my journey and might change along the way. I am open and flexible to what it have to come. I am coming to cities I have never been so regarding if I like them or not I will stay longer or leave them behind.
     
    In my way I hope to meet a lot of people and some friends from the past that are living in the cities I come. For this reason, if you are in any of the cities at the time I come, let me know so we can meet there. Like a friend of mine always says, “Compartir es vivir” [Shearing is living].
    I do not know much about the places I am visiting and must of the information I found on the Internet is for the common tourist. I will love to discover the cities not only visiting the big cathedrals, city halls, past and modern architecture, but also getting lost in the cities and meet the daily culture. If you have any suggestion of what should I visit or where should I stay. Feel free to let me know as well.