August 23, 2008 As an employee at Edelweiss, we are entitled to join our Alpine tours for "free." They used to be FREE but now they charge you for the extras...So, Lisa Marie, Kari, Erin, Josh, and I went on the Bercthesgaden and Eagle's Nest tour with the hotel. Our friend, Andrea, was the tour guide for the day. We went to Hitler's Eagle's Nest first and "hiked" to the top (after a bus took us virtually to the top of the mountain). The Eagle's Nest was a gift to Hitler on his 50th birthday, meant to serve as a vacation home and a place for entertaining. After exploring the top of the mountain, we enjoyed a nice, warm hot chocolate because it was a little chilly that day. After the Eagle's Nest we hopped on the bus to go to Berchtesgaden. There was no real "tour" in Berchtesgaden. The tour group went to a typical restaurant but my friends and I decided we'd rather walk around and explore the town. It was a full day and for some reason bus rides always make everyone sleepy - the entire bus was sleeping on the ride home.
At the top of the mountain!! There's a cross at the top of each mountain and usually a record book to sign!
View from the top!
Lisa Marie and I - happy to be at the top of a mountain!
August 15-18, 2008 Courtney, Laura, Erin, and I went to Cinque Terre for Courtney's 25th birthday. We left Friday after work and Courtney drove us to Camp Darby where we camped for the first night. The next day we packed up our things and went to seek out the "American Beach." This proved to be a more difficult task than anticipated. After stopping to ask for directions several times we finally found it and enjoyed the golden sands and free beach chairs! (not free at most European beaches!). We enjoyed a relaxing morning of sun and sand. That afternoon we went to Pisa to get our famous Leaning Tower pictures taken. Then we made our way to Levonto, a town just north of Cinque Terre, where we would set up our tent for the next two nights! Since Cinque Terre is a national park there is no camping in the five towns. There is also limited access to the towns - you can access them via a train or hiking trail. Sunday was our day to hike between the five towns. About 7 miles all together. Luckily the weather wasn't too hot...but it was still pretty hot! We took the train from Levonto to Monterosso and then caught a boat to the last town, Riomaggiore, to see the towns from a different angle and start our hike with the shorter distances. The hike wasn't too bad - the last hike from Vernazza to Monterosso was the most difficult but we were glad we were going the direction we were because at the very end we went down a ton of stairs and we all agreed it would have been worse to have started our hike with the stairs. The rest of our weekend was spent relaxing on the beach in Monterosso and enjoying the clear, blue water! more pictures
Courtney about to get crushed by the leaning tower of Pisa :)
August 9-11, 2008 Jeffrey, a college friend, came to visit me in Germany for a week. He was visiting over a weekend, so we decided to go to Graz, Austria. Graz was the cultural capital of Europe in 2003 and well deserved indeed. Jeffrey is a member of a website called couchsurfing.com - a network of traveling enthusiasts who offer or seek a couch/cot/floor to sleep on when traveling. Jeffrey had a friend, Sara, living in Graz that he got in touch with to see if we could sleep on her "couch." Turns out Sara had a much nicer set up than most people and Jeffrey and I had our own beds in one of her roommate's rooms (the roommate was on vacation). Her flat was enormous by European standards -- 4 bedrooms, full kitchen, full bathroom, pantry room, AND a terrace!! We got to meet one of her roommates and a friend. Graz was a beautiful city with lots of interesting buildings and cultural activities going on. They also had a wonderful guidebook for visitors - highlighting the must see buildings and giving a brief overview of each sight. Jeffrey and I lucked out and saw a street-performing group our first day in front of the town hall. The group was called La Strada and their dancing was slightly provocative but very catching. Jeffrey and I also went to an Organ Concert while in Graz. The trip was a really great weekend -- lazy sightseeing and great company. We enjoyed breakfast on the terrace every morning and Sara even made us dinner one night -- homemade apricot dumplings!! more pictures