Sunday, September 24, 2006

Piccies

Enjoy... more here.










Radio Luxembourg

Reading

I made it home! Steve and I had a bit of an epic last two days of the trip from Geneva back to here. On the Thursday we left Geneva in the morning, stopped in Bern for lunch (and Montreux to see the Freddy Mercury statue) and then trucked up to Luxembourg for the night. Steve's GPS has some campsites listed, so I picked one at random and headed towards it. When we got there we discovered that (a) it's literally underneath a motorway viaduct and (b) otherwise full of Dutch caravanners. Bizarre.

On Friday morning we had a quick look around Luxembourg itself. It's not the biggest of places, but because the country is so rich they make it look very nice. We even found some postcards to buy, although there wasn't a great selection...

We spent all of Friday afternoon and evening on motorways back to Reading. It was a pretty dull journey, and we were both pretty knackered when we got home!

So that's that. No more foreign jaunts for me for the next few months at least. On this trip we visited:

Germany
Czech Republic
Austria
Switzerland
Liechtenstein
Italy
France
Luxembourg
Belgium
England
... and yesterday I went to Wales for the day, to see my ex-pastor be inducted as the Principal of a seminary there. According to the Welsh, it's a different country!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ups and downs

Geneva

We're still going! Since I last wrote Steve and I have been through another 5 countries - Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (look it up), Italy and France. We've also driven over 5 alpine passes and covered about 500 miles. Driving in the Alps is awesome - as good as, if not better than, driving in California back in April (was it really 5 months ago!?). The roads are immaculate, and the engineering matches the jaw-dropping scenery.

On Monday we left Munich in the morning and went down to Lake Konstanz for lunch in Lindau. We passed through a corner of Austria into Switzerland, and then about 30km later, into the so-called country of Liechtenstein. I say so-called, because there aren't any border controls or even an announcement that you cross it! Only the sign saying 'Vaduz' gives a clue, because Vaduz is the city in Liechtenstein...

We made a slightly spontaneous decision later on at the top of the Spl├╝genpass to carry on into Italy. It was a good one, because we ended up at a really nice campsite by Lake Como. On Tuesday morning we re-entered Switzerland at Lugano, and headed north over the St. Gotthard pass - amazing - and the Sustenpass - also amazing - to Interlaken. We saw the north face of the Eiger at Grindelwald and I had a very brief swim in one of the lakes. Glacial lakes are cold.

On Tuesday night we camped at Zweisimmen, and this morning left to go west to Martigny, and then south over the Gt. St. Bernard pass into Italy (again!). After that one we turned back towards France, and drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel... it's pretty boring really. After an afternoon stop in Chamonix we ended up here in Geneva!

Phew... I don't have much time to write. Tomorrow we hope to end up in Strasbourg, and the day after, at home.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Life in the fast lane

Munich

Yesterday morning I listened to a John Piper sermon while driving at 200km/h. Legally!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I had a great week in Berlin, and got to know lots of people on my course who I didn't know before, and didn't see while I was in Canada. We studied various things, some of which were more airy-fairy than others. One of the more interesting topics was "memory and the city", which in Berlin is quite easy. There is so much history in the city, and so recent, that nearly any street has an interesting past - maybe it was by the Wall, maybe it used to be a city gate, or is named after someone or somewhere.

We were staying in Kreuzberg, an area just south of the city centre. It was a nice neighbourhood - plenty of people around, and lots of immigrants. As such there were loads of interesting and cheap places to eat, such as Mexican, Turkish, German, Italian and so on.

Unfortunately my room-mate, Tony, had a cold during the week and I picked it up just before the end of the fieldtrip. My head feels weird.

On Sunday morning I met up with Steve near to where I was staying, and we set off southwards. We made it here to Munich in 8 hours, including a brief diversion into the Czech Republic. Driving on the autobahn was amazing - I took a stint at the wheel halfway through the journey, and cruised at 150km/h. People were flying past regularly in BMWs, Audis etc. On one downhill open stretch I floored it and reached a top speed (GPS measured) of 203km/h! That was fast.

Once we arrived in Munich, we headed into the centre, and to Oktoberfest! There are an awful lot of people there - 14 beer tents, each with a couple of thousand revellers inside; plus a huge fairground and lots of people milling around. I managed a "Mass" - 1 litre of very nice Hacker Pschorr, but slept very well as a result!

We're off to Switzerland today, via Austria and Liechtenstein - my 25th country, if all goes to plan...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Deutschland

Well, I'm going away again (shock horror!), this time to Germany. I'm flying to Berlin very early tomorrow morning - so much so that I'm leaving tonight - and spending a week there on a geography fieldtrip. We'll be looking at various airy-fairy cultural geography such as "rhythym and meaning in the city". It should be fun, though we'll be working quite hard apparently...

Then next Sunday I'm meeting my friend Steve in Berlin with his car, and we're going on a good ol' roadtrip down to Switzerland, through the Alps and back home again. On the way we may even pop into the Munich Oktoberfest!

So that's all for now. I will try and post an update while I'm on the continent, otherwise I'll be back on Saturday 23rd.

Auf wiedersehen!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Je l'aime beaucoup

I returned from France on Sunday evening, as promised...

It was a good holiday, although a little short! I made it through the ultra-stringent airport security on Tuesday afternoon, and stayed with my parents in an apartment in a complex full of English people from Tuesday-Saturday. For two of the three days we sat around the pool and read books - ie. doing very little - but on one day we went on a wee excursion to the town of Sarlat, about 70km east of Bergerac. On the way we stopped in a small village/castle (pictured) built near the Dordogne river. The town of Sarlat itself was very nice, and bearably touristy!

On Saturday morning we loaded up the car and set off north. Unfortunately we chose the same day to travel as everyone else in France, returning from their holidays. As a result it took about 9 hours to get to Paris, where we stayed overnight. We had enough time to climb the Arc de Triomphe, walk under the Eiffel Tower, have dinner; and on the next morning visit the Montmartre - thus ticking off the three big touristy sights. Ah well, one of these days I'll actually explore the city! We left Paris at lunchtime and made it back to Reading at 10pm, after a pretty choppy ferry crossing.

Driving my Dad's Golf GTI was pretty fun :) although there weren't enough opportunities to really stretch its legs...

This week I'm doing some reading for my thesis, and then on Monday morning I'm off to Berlin! More of that later. Posted by Picasa