Saturday, May 8, 2010
This last week I spent hiking through the Alps of Italy, Switzerland, and a little bit of France on accident. The plan was to fly into Milan, Italy to meet Brad TenHarmsel (friend from HC) and then we would make our way north into Switzerland, and hopefully be in Geneva by the time our flights took off. Everyday there unplanned adventures and obstacles, but those are what made the trip so much fun. We had no idea where we would be when, or how we would be getting there.
Here's a brief recap:
The first day I spent in Milan waiting fro Brad, he didn't show up until 1:30am, and the hostel that we found fell through - we didn'g get a lot of sleep that night. We caught the earliest train heading north the next day and ended up in Domodossola, Italy. From there we grabbed train into Brig, Switzerland. It was a beautiful city. We decided to start hiking from here - so we grabbed out groceries and other supplies and started into the hills. Once it started raining we set up camp looking over the city. The next day we took off (still raining, and now cold) and found a small village with a quaint restaurant, so we stopped for a "quick coffee and sandwich". 3 hours later we walked out having had our coffee and sandwich, but also a beer and a full hot meal. I think the lady felt bad for us, so she gave us yet another beer. We found camp that night underneath a big rock, out of the rain and with plenty of dry wood for a fire. The next morning we hiked to Visp, and took a train to Aigle. From Aigle we made our way to Montreax, and started hiking into the mountains. We found an old log cabin and camped out in there for the night. We woke up and kept going up the mountain, hoping to make it to the peak of Rochers de Naye. The weather was too bad, and the wind started to pick up to make it all the way to the top, but I did get enough reception to call Toby on his birthday! We camped that night above the cloud line, and watched the sunset over the mountains. It was a night I will never forget. We made our way down the mountain the next day (thanks to some nice construction guys with a big truck:) and caught a train into Geneva. We finally made it - the night was spent in the airport so Brad could catch his early flight. I thought my flight would be canceled due to the ash cloud over Dublin, but it made it through! This was honestly one of the best trips I have ever experienced. EVER.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Surprisingly, school has been keeping me quite busy lately. I haven't had the chance to go to many places over the last two weeks, but I still managed to fit in some travels - Last weekend we took another class trip, this time Belfast. Northern Ireland is still a part of England, and there is still a lot of tension between the Nationalist/Catholics and the Unionists/Protestants. We visited some of the murals commemorating the struggles, including Bloody Sunday. Belfast is also the city where the Titanic was born, so we went to the shipyard where that was made. What remains is pretty much a bunch of old empty buildings, and a parking lot where the boat was once. The tour guide was great though, he was so excited about the whole thing. One of the days we went up to Derry, the place where Bloody Sunday happened. We learned all about what led up to the massacre and got to meet some of the people who had lost loved ones back in 72. The part that gets me is that there are still hate crimes going on between the two groups. A peace line still exists in Belfast, which is a 50 wall dividing the city into the two parts. There are armed Land Rovers everywhere and the police do not mess around! But we were all safe, and didn't encounter and major issues.
Other than that, I've been doing a good bit of reading, writing and presenting for my classes. This is my last week of class, so everything is due. I leave on Friday for Italy, where I will meet up with Brad Tenharmsel. We will be hiking through the Swiss Alps! When I get back, I have two full weeks to study for my one exam. After that I have two more weeks, then I'm home!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I know this post is long past due, but better late than never! Last Friday I left early in the morning to fly into Germany where Tilman, my German friend who studied at Holland Christian for a year, was waiting with his little (big) brother. We stayed that night at his brother's house, Sebi. Saturday we spent touring Heidelberg , found an old castle with an awesome fountain, and just strolled through the old city. That night we met up with some of their friends: Micha, the pastor's kid, and Kai, the two week old Christian. We walked through the city singing praise and worship songs, getting in trouble with the cops, and telling everyone we were celebrating Kai and Jesus, it was such a blast! The next day was Easter, and we went to the breakfast before the service and Sebi played the bass. Afterward, we drove to Tilman's house where he grew up. We had dinner with the whole family and just relaxed that night. On Monday we went to the place Tilman did his Civil Service and visited an old monastery in the same town. On the way home, I drove on the Autobahn! Vroom Vroom Party Starter!!! Tuesday we went into Stuttgart, the big city near their house. We toured the city, Tilman bought shoes, then we visited his aunt. We played frisbee in a courtyard of a castle and just hung out. Wednesday we had to wake up early because I had to be at the airport to fly home. The trip was such a blessing. I loved being with a family again, and the talks I had with Tilman were great. Him and I are in similar places in life, and can relate really easily. The pictures will explain more. Go to the link up on the right and you will see more of our adventures.
Monday, March 29, 2010
This past weekend was full of relaxing and enjoying the city of Dublin. Friday was spent giving presentations and touring the Southern part of the city and found the coolest coffee shop in Dublin. Saturday a group of us went south along the coastline to Bray. We did a little hike to the top of a small peak to overlook the town. In terms of weather, it was one of the nicest days we have had. Yesterday (Sunday) I actually did some studying and wrote a paper, I sometimes forget that I am here going to school! As I look back to the first half of this semester, I can see so many highs, as well as a few lows. Two months in and I already feel like a new person. All this traveling and meeting new people has really helped me to define and refine what kind of person I am, and also what kind of person I want to be. I am thrilled that I get another 2 months, I just hope they don't go by as fast as the first two! It feels like last week Isaac and I were waiting in the Chicago airport, wondering what I our lives would like in a couple of hours...
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I realize that it has been a few days since I've been back and still haven't posted anything... I had some things come up that I needed to take care of, classes. I Don't even know where to start with this trip! We flew into Girona, communication barriers brought us to a hospital instead of the hostle, two hours later, we found the hostle. The next day we toured Girona, and old Roman settlement with narrow streets and big cathedrals. That night we went to Barcelona and quickly found our hostle. We met up with my friend from HC, Lindsey Etterbeek, and her riend Mallory Missad. They took us around the city briefly that night and we spent a relaxing evening chatting and getting to know each other. Turns out Isaac and Mallory went to the same high school (Grand Rapids Christian) and didn't even know it! The next morning the two of us took off and saw some of the sights, meeting up with the ladies for a 4 hour lunch on the beach! Lunch is the big meal there and always takes a few hours to eat out. Again, we just chilled that evening playing cards, Scrabble, Uno and chatting away until the late hours of the night. The next day Isaac and I saw Park Guell and the Sagrada Cathedral, two amazing creations of Gaudi, a famous architect. We didn't meet up with the girls until later at a tapas restaurant. Our last day in Barcelona was spent exploring the Barcelona Soccer Club's stadium. We caught our train back to Girona that night and flew home the next day.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I realize I haven't posted anything new for a while, I have been crazy busy traveling and things. I am going to split the last week into two segments. Starting with St. Patrick's Day. The night before a big group of us went into the city to get into the spirit of things, and I have never seen so many people crammed into such a small city! We stayed out far too late and got up early the next morning to get ready for the big parade. We went all out! Everyone painted their face, and we were all wearing our green and orange. We eventually caught a packed bus into the city and found somewhere to see the parade. This was unlike anything I have ever seen! The Macy's day parade is cool, but the costumes and floats of this parade put it to shame! Everyone was into it, and the crowd was going crazy the whole time! We left the parade sight a bit before the parade was done so that we could find our way to Croke Park, where we watched the national championship of hurling. One of our program leaders was there explaining all the rules to me, and I really wish I could have grown up playing this sport, it's so fast and action packed. So much fun to watch! Isaac and I left as soon as the game was over and headed to the airport, Barcelona bound!
Monday, March 15, 2010
This was easily one of the most beautiful hikes of my life. These cliffs are unlike anything I have ever seen, they are almost 4 times higher than the cliffs in pictured rock! The trail itself doesn't get more than 5 feet from the edge and everywhere you turn the view is breath taking. The trip started Saturday with an early bus ride out to Galway, then we took a guided tour out to the cliffs. That brought us through some interesting parts of the area, and a Celtic burial site. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center, about the halfway point of the cliffs. From there we took the bus back to a small town, Doolin. We told the bus driver that we would be hiking from there, and thanks for the ride. We left Doolin at about 4, and began to meander our way to the Ocean. We had no plans of where we would be hiking, or sleeping, we just wanted to see some cliffs. We followed the coast until the beginning of the cliffs and hiked along them for about 2 hours to get to the visitor center just as the sun was setting. From there we found a farmer's field to pitch our tent and called it a night. The next morning (Sunday) we hiked out to a castle on the cliffs and took our time taking it all in. We kept following the coast (jumping electrical wires and playing with horses) and soon found the end of the cliffs. From this point we hiked along the water until the next small town, Liscannor. An old fisherman fixing his boat told us of a surf city just around the bay, so we went there. After exploring an old graveyard/church ruin, forging a river and walking through the icy ocean, we found Lahinch. We grabbed something to eat and found the tourist info office. They told us of the next bus, and we decided to hop on. The best part about the whole trip was not knowing where we would end up in the next hour, even the next 100 yards. Everything was unexpected!