The Old Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland

I can’t say a lot in German, but I did know how to say “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Please,” “Thank You,” and “I love you.” I tried to throw these out as much as possible and “Ich liebe dich” or “I love you” kept coming up. Mostly in reference to the places we were visiting! When we got to Lucerne I immediately noticed the largest difference from England from the entire trip. And that was that Swiss people are so nice, like so, so nice. On the train, a couple overheard us talking about our hostel and they offered directions and helpful bits of advice for our trip without us even asking. Then on the walk to our hostel we stopped to check a map and within the minute a man—dressed as a revolutionary as it was still Mardi Gras—offered us directions yet again! The entire time we had spent in England, I’ve never met such outwardly friendly people.

Gorgeous Lucerne!

Thanks to all the help, we had no trouble finding our hostel where we crashed for the night. The next morning when we emerged from our hostel we were all dumbfounded by the amazing surroundings we hadn’t noticed because of how dark it was when we got in the night before. Lucerne’s quaint buildings and houses were nestled around a cool alpine lake surrounded by the Alps. The water was full of elegant swans and friendly ducks. The mountains rose suddenly, taking bits of the town up with them, into stunning snow covered peaks. We spent the day wondering the streets then sitting, then wandering around the lake then sitting, then hiking in the mountains then sitting. It was a pretty fantastic way to see Lucerne actually.

The Gutsch!!

The highlight of the day by far was when we saw “The Gutsch” (a huge palace like hotel perched high on a mountain side) and decided to walk to it. The walk wasn’t near as bad as expected and the path gave way to a beautiful forest whose trail was marked with a fresh water spring which we all used to quench our thirst. Side note—you can drink all the water from the springs in Switzerland unless specifically noted. The Gutsch offered a stunning panorama of the city, the lake, and the Alps; it really was breathtaking. The biggest drawback to Switzerland was by far the price of food. If I thought food in England was expensive, a quick trip to Switzerland would clear that matter right up.

Pretty Flowers at our picnic spot in Zurich

The next day as we sat on the lake-side stoop we had claimed as our own and ate breakfast, I knew it would be so hard to leave Lucerne. However, I reassured myself that I would be back one day and that I would treat myself to a night at The Gutsch. We got on our train to Zurich and spent the majority of the day there. Zurich was not nearly as pretty or interesting as Lucerne, but it reminded me a lot of Denver and nothing of England. The cars were big like America, not small and “smart” like England and Italy. We ended up eating dinner in a park with food we bought from a grocery store because Swiss food turned out to be too expensive, yet again.

After our make-shift picnic, we got on a train to Munich where we arrived somewhat disheveled but still managed to find our way to the hostel because it was really close to the train station. The next morning, we were dumbfounded by the bus system but eventually figured out how to take the metro/bus to get to Duchau concentration camp. Public transportation in Germany is so much cheaper than England! We got unlimited day transportation for 3.80 Euros a piece, whereas one ride on the London Tube is around 1.80 pounds! So that was awesome. Duchau was sad and humbling. It is hard to believe that human kind could ever have been that heartless and it made me pray that nothing like that will ever happen again.

After returning from Duchau we stopped into a very cute and very authentic German restaurant and had a (relatively inexpensive!) Bavarian style meal! There were men in lederhosen and children drinking beer (ok, apple juice from a beer stein… we think…) and everyone just seemed really happy. It made me very proud of my hair-itage (as I say this as I touch my hair, in honor of the band Lost & Found).

Haufbrauhaus, see my initials!?

We spent the rest of the day exploring Munich until we had all you can eat fajitas (because Europe has Mexican restaurants and England doesn’t!) for dinner and then we went to the Haufbrauhaus. Now, before I go into this, I need to explain to you two things: 1) I hate beer. 2) I love the Haufbrauhaus because it makes me proud to be German and my initials (HB) are one everything. These conflicting feelings made me anxious to go because I wanted to drink beer out of one of their huge awesome steins! But I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand it. What we ended up doing was my friend Lauren and I split one and actually managed— small sips at a time—to finish the whole thing. Go us.

View from the castle!


The next day may have been my favorite day of the whole trip, jury is still out. We woke up relatively early and got on a train that took us into the Alps (yay!) to the town of Fussen to see the famous Neuschwanstein castle that inspired Disney’s Cinderella castle. I expected to love the castle, but a couple things caught me off guard. First of all, this place looked so much like my home! The greenery was similar, the mountains were similar, it was just amazing. The second thing was that usually the insides of castles are disappointing. I always expect them to feel grand and lavish, but usually they are cold and stony. Neuschwanstein, however, was absolutely no disappointment. Everything was ornate and decorated and everything there was still originals.

After hiking around the castle, we returned to Munich and met up with Sabrina, a friend of Lauren’s who had studied abroad and stayed at their house some years earlier. Sabrina and her fiancé treated us to my favorite meal of the whole trip. I had an amazing Bavarian meal smothered in mushroom sauce and seemingly endless rounds of drinks (turns out beer is pretty good mixed with lemonade). But the best part by far was the camaraderie, they taught us how to toast like a German (“Prost!”) and told many highly entertaining stories. The brewery was nothing like pubs in England where people tend to keep to themselves and things never seem to be too crowded or too out of hand. This brewery had long tables and you sat and ate and toasted with people you didn’t know. It was so much fun and I really never have been prouder to be a Bauer (which is on many-a signs in Germany) and German. Check out the rest of my pictures here and I look forward to reporting back again soon after Paris this weekend!