A Weekend in the Mountains!

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Apr 28, 2008

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Flag of Switzerland  ,
Monday, February 11, 2008

This week was a little bit more of what I was used to in classes.  People were finally done changing schedules, so the professors were able to really start getting into their lectures.  Tuesday, in Italian Life and Culture, we learned about the Sicilian Mafia.  It was pretty interesting that such an organization exists and learning about some of the things that they did.  The funniest part (maybe this isn't really funny, but oh well...) was that after learning about different member/person involved, our professor concluded with "...and they were killed."  Basically, everyone was killed in a car bomb of some kind.  I also had my first quiz in Italian.  It's been hard to remember how you spell words because I'm so used to Spanish and every time I want to say or write something, I just always think of it in Spanish first.  Hopefully after a few more weeks of learning the language I think of Italian before Spanish!  I also cancelled by original plane ticket home and booked another one for a week later because I worked it out with my aunt Eva to get to go and visit her in Budapest for the week!  I'm really excited!  One last thing about school is that we got to vote on people to be on a student council type commitee, and I got voted to be one of the 4 people!  We basically work with the rest of the students and the CAPA staff to organize things and make sure everything is running smoothly.  We have our first meeting in a few days, so we'll see what all will really go on with that!
Wednesday was Amy's 21st birthday, so we went out and celebrated with a big group of people that we have met.  We went to her favorite restaurant, La Giostra.  The food and atmosphere was so awesome!!  It was a tiny little place, but they were able to put tables together for all of us.  They give you a couple glasses of champagne and appetizers as part of your cover cost.  I ordered spinach gnocchi with tomatoes. I had never had gnocchi before, but it was delicious!  After dinner, we went to a couple different places around by the Duomo. 
We found out that our Friday class was cancelled and rescheduled for sometime next week, so Amy and I decided to go to Switzerland on a bus trip by EuroAdventures.  It was fun to decide to do something so close to when we were going to leave and go somewhere we probably wouldn't have gone to otherwise!   The big thing to do in there are the more adventure type sports.  I figured it would be a bad idea to try to ski in the Alps since last time I skied was on the bunny hill at Tyrol Basin!  I really wanted to go sky diving, but it was super expensive, so I didn't end up getting to do that!
The bus left on Thursday night from the train station and then we drove through the night to Interlaken, Switzerland.  The bus isn't the most comfortable to try to sleep in, but it was all right.  At one point, we stopped and I told Amy that it didn't look like we were in Italy anymore.  She looked at me strange and said she knew that we were in Switzerland and said we had stopped at the border control for a few minutes.  I missed that, so I able to sleep for a little bit at least!  We arrived at the hotel around 2:30am and then to our surprise found out that we had a room to ourselves.  We thought that there were only 4, 6, or 8 person rooms, but we lucked out and got a room with 2 twin beds and our own huge bathroom.  It was great!!! 
The next morning we had the breakfast that the hotel provided...just bread and jam, but, they did have coffee which was great for me!  We wondered around Interlaken for awhile and found the two train stations and the main streets.  We stopped at the cute little restaurant for lunch.  Reading the menu was much harder here because we don't know any German.  Later, we went to the train station to ask where we could go, and we ended up getting tickets to Grindelwald.  It was a little town about 50 minutes away by train.  It's about a mile up into the mountains and so the train ride was amazing.  We were really happy to be able to get up into the mountains a little bit!  Grindelwald was a big place for skiers.  It was nice to be in such a laid back place because I've been so used to people always looking their best in Italy.  After wondering around there for awhile we headed back down to Interlaken and just relaxed the rest of the night.
On our second day we got up and went to the train station again so we could get tickets to go to Bern.  That is the capital of Switzerland and they were celebrating Carnival that day!  It was another beautiful train ride to get there!  The people that get to live in these towns between the mountains and rivers are so lucky!!  Once we got to Bern, we found an information desk, and they gave us a map of places that we should go.  Not knowing where anything really was, we just started walking.  We found some good shopping and some awesome buildings.  It's so different from Italy and it was really a nice break from what we were used to.  Many vendors were out and setting up for the parade that was going to take place that afternoon.  We packed a lunch, so we just ate outside and then got our spots for the parade.  The woman standing next to us spoke English and told us about the costumes and some of the ideas behind what people were doing in the parade.  It was nice to be able to understand some of the things a little better.  We also went down one of the streets with the vendors and met some guys who played on the soccer team there and were from Interlaken.  We played soccer with them for a little bit in the street.
After a tiring day of walking around and being surrounded by a lot of people, we went back to Interlaken.  We ate dinner at a cute and cozy little restaurant.  It was really good because they we felt like we were at home.  No pasta on the menu for once! Haha!  Amy even got a fish fry!  It was so nice not eating Italian food.  Another thing that I was able to find was Trident gum!!  Probably not a big deal for most people, but I have a gum addiction and all the gum here are those little capsule like pieces of gum that you can only chew for about 2 minutes before there is no flavor left, so I stocked up on that!  We went back to our hotel and ended up falling asleep, but woke up in time to go to the lobby where they had a jazz band playing.  They were really good and it was nice to get to relax at the hotel and still be entertained!  We also watched some CNN at the hotel that night because we haven't watched TV for a month now and it was good to hear some news.  I was so sick of all the election stuff when I left, but now it was nice to get to hear news about it!
We left Sunday and it was nice to go back while there was still some day light because then we were able to get to see more of the scenery.  We rode a double-decker bus and I can't believe that it made it up some of the switchbacks in the mountains and around some of the corners! 
Switzerland was amazing and I'm really glad that we got to go somewhere that was quiet and relaxing.  The only mountains I had seen were my parents' pictures from when they went out west this last summer.  Now I can see that pictures don't give their beauty any justice because they are just so breathtaking to see!  It was a good break from Italy, but it felt great to be back in our own beds!! 
Up next for us is going to be a weekend in Milan!!
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