The Neighborhood Playground

Kids, I have brought you to this special place
So you can stretch your legs and get some play.
The playground is next to a sacred place
That you will visit on some distant day.
When you are laughing and playing your games,
Look over the fence to the other side;
There another person reaps all the claims
To our souls when we have finished our ride.
Children, you’ll find plenty of time to rest
When he comes a-knocking on your home’s door,
So for now you need to do what is best,
Play on the equipment you see before.
Ignore the fate that we are all meeting,
And play because time is always fleeting.

Back to Summer

Back when I watched television, I remember a commercial of a person taking a trip from Flagstaff, Arizona to Phoenix, and how they shed their clothes along the way because of the changing weather. On my last day in Europe, I had a similar experience. I took a bunch of trains with many stops along the way from Murren, Switzerland on top of the Alps to Frankfurt, Germany where I took a plane back to Bangkok. I left at 8:30 in the morning wearing all of my warm clothes to hopping back into shorts and a t-shirt by the time I went to bed the next night. I thought I would point out the change as it happened by taking a picture at each one of the stops along the way.

Murren, Switzerland was the highest point, and the coldest. I had to bundle up and crunch across the snow.

We were still pretty high up when we arrived in Grutschlap, but did not have to leave the station as we waited for the cable car to take us down the mountain.

It was still a little cold in Lauterbrunnen because it was early in the morning, but the short wait did not make it feel that cold.

We had made it to Interlaken, Switzerland on a train and felt the constant descent from the valley we had stayed in for the last five days. The snow was still there, but reserved for the far away mountains.

We hopped on another train to Spiez in Switzerland, and we could start to see more blue sky and the need to pull off the coat.

Basel was our last town in Switzerland. We had quite the break there and it was getting really nice.

We reached the outer station of Frankfurt and had to put the coats back on and stick under the safety of shelter because of the rain that had come out of nowhere.

The rains had stopped in the twenty minutes it took us to get to Frankfurt’s main station, but it was still cool outside because the sun had dipped below the horizon.

Even though it was cold outside, I was in Frankfurt Airport, and knew my next stop would be Thailand, so I packed my coat away for the next couple of months. I would not need it where I was going.

It was fun being out in Europe for the Winter Break. Thanks for following along as I got to enjoy the cold weather for a little bit. Never take it for granted because you will miss it when it is gone.

The View from My Window

One of my favorite things to do while out on a long vacation that will take me to new and exciting place is to take a picture of the view I can see from my window of the hotel or hostel or Air B+B that I am staying at. It is surprising to see the differences of the places, and I think each place really show what certain places are really like. These are the views from the six place that I stay at.

Bad Windsheim, Germany

This was a really nice Air B+B we stayed at in Bad Windsheim, Germany. It sat above a nice pizzeria, and overlooked other people’s backyards. This feeling of being at home and comfortable in the very private surroundings that describes this quaint Germanic town.

Fussen, Germany

We only spent one night in this town that is most famous for the two big castles that sit on the mountains just outside of town. It was a small little hostel that was very crowded with only two bathrooms that I had to squeeze into if I wanted to use the shower. The building right across the street described the feeling of this place perfectly.

Salzburg, Austria

We stayed on the campus of one of the colleges in this town in a hotel chain. It was very comfortable and the staff was great. They had a nice community bar downstairs that many people visited throughout the day, and wherever you looked you saw other guests. The fact that I could look into other people’s rooms demonstrated this fact nicely. I tended to look over the building though at the mountains that surrounded the town.

Munich, Germany

I was back in the city with this hostel. We had a private room in the place, and it even had a sink in our room which made things a little more comfortable. There were a couple of shared bathrooms, and I could see during a busier time of the year it being a problem, but due to the fact that we were there at the beginning of the holiday after hangover, it wasn’t ever really a problem. I really enjoyed this place even the view could have been a little better, even though what should I have expected while staying in a city but a view of the city.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

This was a great hostel and the views were amazing. It had a really nice kitchen and a great patio for each of the rooms. We did not use the patio because it was just a little too chilly, but that was the reason we came out here in the first place. The room was big and the people we shared the place with very friendly even though there were very few of them. It was exactly what it was like exploring this place that has easily become one of my favorite places in the world.

Murren, Switzerland

We like to splurge on one place on trips like this, and this was the place that we chose to do it at. The place was right across from the train station, but when you are in a town as small and quant as Murren, this is not something that should cause alarm. We were the only people staying at the place that night as well which made for a fun experience, and one again, the views were just spectacular. It also a a patio, and even though it was cold outside, we took advantage of it, and had a drink while enjoying the moon rise over the mountains.

To Choose a Side of the Valley – Wangen versus Murren

Wangen during the early afternoon

There are two mountain towns on either side of the Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland that attract people to them. They both offer amazing things to do in the wintertime and summertime and if you can’t decide which one would be the perfect place for you then maybe this post will help you make that decision for you.

To start off with, both of these towns are obviously tourist towns. They both have an extensive amount of hotels and restaurants to choose from, and it would really be hard to decide which one you wish to travel to based upon this. Also both of them offer skiing, snowboarding and sledding during the winter, and hiking, biking and base jumping during the summer, and it would be hard to decide which one does this better. They both sit at the base of a mountain peak (Jungfrau in Wangen and Schilthorn in Murren) that you can travel to the top to see amazing view of the valley, and even if you do not go up these peaks, you will still get spectacular views. So the idea really comes down to the feel of the town and how that matches your tastes.

The train station in Murren

Both towns can be reached with public transportation leaving from the valley town of Lauterbrunnen. Wangan has just a short fifteen minute train ride to get to the center of town; whereas, Murren requires a transfer to a gondola from either Lauterbrunnen or a little further up the valley in Stechelberg. Because of this, Murren has a more isolated feeling to it, and not as many people make the extra effort to stay there. Depending on whether you like those crowds or not, this is a big factor in deciding which one to stay at.

A full moon rising from the vantage point of Murren

It is important to decide if you enjoy the sunrise or the sunset more. Murren gets the sunrise and it is a little after noon during the winter where the town starts to get shrouded in shadow, but if you are a morning person, the sun warms up the town quickly and it has some spectacular sunrises.

The view of Wangen from the church that overlooks the town

Wangen nestles into the other side of the valley and experiences the sun in the afternoon on clear days, making it a really pleasant place to be. It also get the sunsets and they can be amazing if the clouds are situated in the right position. But this also cause a little bit of a problem with the snow. The Murren side definitely gets more snow and it sticks around a little longer because of this movement of the sun. It does not really affect the skiing because when you go high enough up, you will be able to find the snow needed for this activity, so it may make you think about things as you decide what life will be like while you wander around the town.

Murren at night

Overall, they are both great cities that have a lot to offer. I personally enjoyed Murren a little bit more but I like the quieter towns, and I no longer look for the night time that I did when I was younger. Both towns are close enough to each other that if you are out here, you can take a day and explore both towns completely. It is also one of the most beautiful areas in the world that still holds on to those traditional ideals, so it is worth scheduling time to visit, whether that is summer or winter.

Happy traveling, folks!

 

In a Valley in the Swiss Alps – Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

I woke up yesterday morning in the last area I am going to explore on this trip to Europe and it easily became my favorite. This is nothing to the holiday fun I had in the various German cities I visited or the cultural exploration I went on in Salzburg, but it was because of the dramatic landscape of the Swiss Alps is hard to beat.

This little town is none other than Lauterbrunnen, a ski town that finds itself tucked away in a valley between the impressive rocky peaks of the Bernese mountains of the Alps. It is often referred to the people who live here as the land of 72 waterfalls, and there are two with walking distance from the train station that will drop you off in this town.

Though these waterfalls are impressive to see, it is impossible to get close to them this time of the year because the paths leading up to them are closed down due to the dangers of winter weather. It does not mean that it is not a beautiful valley to take a hike through, and no matter which way I looked, there was always something to take a picture of. Many people come up here in throughout the year to enjoy the scenery, and to go biking, skiing, sledding, or paragliding. It is nature’s playground, and the sleepy town of Lauterbrunnen lives in harmony with this fact.

Tourism is basically the main industry out here, but that does not stop people from earning a living farming, ranching, and making homemade cheeses and sausages. The local brands are always for sale in the grocery stores, but there are many farm fronts that will sell these delicacies as well. My favorite was the farm house that had a vending machine in front of its house with hunks of cheese and sausage available along with tiny bottles of homemade wine.

Overall, it is a beautiful part of the world, and I am happy to have landed here for the last part of my Winter Break. Lauterbrunnen is in the center of a bunch of small mountains towns that all hold their own special charm which I am going to be able to explore over the next few days, and I am excited to see each and every one of them.