Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ain't Life Grand!

How cliche is that, right!!? Well I can't help it - it's what I'm feeling lately!

I've had a spectacular fall, and it just keeps getting better and better. The last few months I've been so fortunate: I backpacked in the Yukon, celebrated a major milestone anniversary for my loving parents, traveled through Central Europe with my bestest friend, and met some fabulous people along the way.

Now I'm spending time in my happy place. Yup, you guessed it - Canmore! The weather is amazing so hiking is still in full swing, plus there are sales galore on skiis. As much as I love summer activities, I'm excited to get out on a sweet new pair of sticks and 'shred the gnar'!

Picture perfect, if I do say so myself!

SUP - a fun way to spend a beauty evening!

Work isn't even all that bad either. There is finally a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel I feel I've been in recently, so that's a bonus. Lots of changes, yet lots of staying the same. It's all good!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!

Wowza, what a most excellent week!! We've done everything, from touring the factory of the first chocolatier in Switzerland, to sleeping in a 12th century castle, to rolling through vineyards on a wine tasting tour in Eastern France. It has all been so amazing, and again, I'm going to let my photos help me describe what we've been up to....

The Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc, Switzerland

Mmmmm, Toni would have been in heaven!!

Where it all starts - fresh cocoa beans!

Random Swiss castle.

Murten, Switzerland

Burg Hohenzollern

We stayed here! Le Chateau d'Osthoffen

The view from my room in the castle.

And the wine tour begins....

This was the neatest place - Schaeffer-Woerly Vineyard.

The Alsace Region of France

The gargantuan, gothic, Strasbourg Cathedrale de Notre Dame

So I don't know what it is about Jynelle and I..... but we attracted quite a bit of attention from both the Swiss and the French authorities this trip. LOL!!

When we were crossing the border from Switzerland back into Germany, we were asked to pull over and get out of the vehicle. The guards proceeded to search the entire car and all of our belongings! The 30-minute delay was well worth it however, when one of the guards opened up and rifled through the zippered compartment in my suitcase which contained my dirty laundry.... I almost laughed out loud, right then and there. Poor guy! In the end, we were handed back our passports and told to continue on and have a nice day.

The next little run-in happened when we were on our way into Strasbourg. It was early in the morning, and we were trying to follow our GPS directions to the meeting place for the wine tour. According to Sir Tom-Tom, we needed to make a left-hand turn.... into a 'bus only' lane.... oy!! Of course there are no road signs, and by the time we realized we were somewhere that we shouldn't be, we were surrounded by the police. Yes, surrounded. I'm not sure where they were hiding, but there were two on motorcycles and about five on bicycles. After being asked to pay 112 Euros cash and being lectured about listening to a GPS ("If it told you to drive over zair, on zee grass, vud you??!! NON! You vud not!!"), we got a few words in edge-wise and explained we were Canadians and were trying to find the tourism office at the centre of the city. The two motorcycle cops had a quick dialogue and then abruptly told us to follow them..... right downtown, to exactly where we needed to be.... Yep, we were escorted, lights flashing, all the way to the centre of Strasbourg! Best part - they didn't end up making us pay anything. *PHEW*

It's been quite a whirlwind, but at the same time such a great adventure, with my bestest friend! We have seen and done some really amazing things, including covering nearly 2200km through five countries... now how's THAT for a vacation!! Love it!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Trains and Tunnels

I must say, that the Germans, Austrians, and Swiss sure have some brilliant engineers amongst them. Over here, they don't bother to go around things, or to switchback up things.... No-sir-ee! They just go right through, or straight up! Wow!

Throughout the alps, there is tunnel after tunnel after tunnel - I think the longest one we've driven in so far was about 16km... As well, there are cable cars everywhere, and today, we went up to the top of Mt Pilatus on the coolest old cogwheel train ever. It is the steepest in the world - this thing grinds up and down stretches of mountainside that are at a 48% grade. Holy. Moly. What an experience!

Let me back up a step. We've been hanging out in Lucerne, trying to wait out the weather, because we were hoping to head south of Interlaken and tour around the Eiger. Sadly, sunshine is eluding us, so we decided to start making our way back north.


Yep, that's a cow.... in the middle of town.

View from one of the watchtowers on the old wall
which surrounded Luzern.

I love all the medieval structures!

Old Town Luzern waterfront.

Mmmmm, beer! Belgian beer. In an
Irish pub. In Switzerland. Oh yeah!!

The owner of these poochies sat them down, and they
stayed like this the entire time she was in the shop!

Steepest cogwheel train in the world!

Socked-in at the top. That is a hotel by the way,
at the summit of Mt Pilatus!

This evening, we ended up scoring the most awesome place to stay, in a great little town called Murten. And as luck would have it, we were able to find another Irish pub!

They're everywhere! LOL!

Tomorrow's plan isn't quite developed yet - we'll decide at breakfast - but I'm sure it will include more of the same..... Fun!!!