And the saga continues! In my last post, we read about my wonderful time in Barcelona, Spain visiting all of Gaudi’s creations and singing along to Ed Sheeran. Thank goodness we were going to Switzerland so we couldn’t be sad for too long about leaving!
We flew into Zürich, Switzerland and had views of the Swiss Alps from our plane window. Can you say unreal?!
*Fun Fact from Katelyn Stahl: 60% of Switzerland is covered in the Alps.*
Once we landed (and our baggage came out not only at a normal time, but were the first two out overall), we thought about taking the train into Zürich. Kate thought we should take a taxi so we knew where we are going to get to our hotel. It was a smart idea…until halfway through our ride when Kate whacked my shoulder and pointed at the total that is rising by the second.
Our looks at each other were something like “IS THAT RIGHT IS THAT IN EUROS HOW LONG HAVE WE BEEN IN THIS CAB IF WE’RE PAYING THAT KIND OF MONEY?!”
By the time we arrived to our hotel, he told us our total was 48 franks. We were relieved, and asked him how much that is in Euros. He said 48, they’re almost 1:1 and they accept both Euros and Franks at most places.
Kate timed it up, and we ended up paying €50 for 8 minutes in the car. So here’s my first bit of advice; TAKE THE TRAIN FROM THE AIRPORT!
We got to our hotel, dropped off our bags, and went straight back out to find our favorite part of any vacation; FOOD! We ended up finding a restaurant with outdoor seating and what looked to be a lot of locals eating and decided it was a good choice. We both went for Swiss food (as you should, if you go) with Kate getting (her 1st) Cordon Bleu and me getting sausage and gravy (I THINK I CANT REMEMBER EXACTLY. HERE’S A PICTURE.).
Both we’re SO. GOOD! The staff was so friendly and were all kind enough to give us the English menu. You’ll find that lots of places have them if you talk in English and they’re nice/ask if they have one. If they don’t, ask what their favorite thing on the menu is or a local classic and just go for it.
We had to get our 20,000 steps (Kate and I tried for 20-30,000 each day), so we took a walk around the quaint streets and back to our hotel. The only reason I mention that is because if you are planning on traveling to Europe, be ready to be getting your steps in. Once we returned, we planned out our following day and decided to take the train to Lucerne, as it surrounded by some of the Alps and that was Kate’s top reason for wanting to go to Switzerland.
Sometimes plans don’t exactly how we want them too, though, do they?
We found our way to the train station pretty much unscathed. I say pretty much because as we were walking there, I just about walked into one of the road trains that was flying around the corner. So listen close, kids, when your parents tell you to look both ways before crossing the street, it applies to crossing rail lines in Switzerland, too. Oops.
After seeing my life flash before my eyes and Katy laughing for 5 straight minutes, we made it to the train station (you would think as my big sister she would’ve been slightly concerned). We went to a ticket machine and picked Lucerne as our destination…It would have been over 100 euros for the two of us. After our expensive cab ride, I wasn’t keen on spending that much. So instead we got tickets to Uetliberg, which has a lookout tower that you should be able to see the Alps from.
But alas, we were there on a misty day and all of the Alps were out of sight. This was a downer. It was still a beautiful view and a lovely walk, but I felt bad knowing we could see the things Kate flew thousands of miles for (other than me, of course).
We went back into Zurich and spent the rest of our day eating, shopping, and even got a little siesta in (siestas are going to be an important part of the rest of the trip). We walked around the quaint cobblestone roads (which look great in pictures but hurt Kate’s feet and caused me to trip 732 times) and took pictures all around the city.
After dinner (we went to the same place as the day before and got a jumbo Cordon Bleu to share, aka #2 for Kate), we went back to our hotel. As I’m cropping a picture for my Instagram, Katy all of a sudden slaps my arm and says “I HAVE AN IDEA!”
She had apparently been doing some research, and found out that renting a car would cost around 150 euros. We would pick it up from the airport, which would be convenient, as we had a flight that night leaving at 10 for our next destination. We would be able to drive freely through Switzerland and the Alps my sister (and I, of course) was so desperate to see. She was so excited about it, how could I say no?!
I would say that renting the car was our best Switzerland decision. We had the car from 8 AM-8 PM on our final day there, so we were able to see more than we would have by taking the train from town to town and walking place to place. Luckily, they drive on the right side of the road and we rented an automatic car, so Kate took the wheel and I took the map and off we went!
As we made our way out of the city and onto the winding roads, we finally found them. THE SWISS ALPS!!!
Our first stop was in a town called Interlaken. We spent our time walking around the city, drinking the most expensive coffee of our lives (3.50 each for half a tall and nor particularly good coffee? Like come on!), and taking pictures of (and with) those pretty ‘lil mountains. I felt like singing through the meadows THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC (AHHHHHH-AH-AH-AHHH).
Our next stop was Grindelwald. We initially wanted to go on the lift they have to the top of one of the Alps, however we were very silly and did not check when it opens, which was in May. *sigh* Luckily the town was adorable with many beautiful views, so we had lunch at a restaurant with an outside patio to enjoy it (and here Kate had Cordon Bleu #3).
We kept on driving out to a town called Lauterbrunnen. This town has a huge waterfall with mountains in the background, and it’s just beautiful.
We started our way back to Zurich at this point to go to the airport. We made a quick stop at a town called Iseltwald because I thought I saw a castle and it was a fantastic view of this lake.
We made it to the airport with enough time to return the car, charge our phones a bit, and then were loaded onto the plane to our next destination…ROME! FOR EASTER WEEKEND!!! Hopefully this one will come quicker than the last, so bless you all for your patience!
What I Would Change:
- Taking the taxi in. We brought it up so many times, “I can’t believe we paid €50 for 8 minutes in a car.”
- Staying in Zurich. It was a beautiful town and we enjoyed it, but it was extremely expensive. I think Kate and I would’ve enjoyed staying in one of the smaller random towns in the Alps much more.
- Interlaken was one of the film sites for James Bond 007.
- Switzerland is one of the naturally most beautiful places I have ever been (and I have been a lot of places).
- Katy had Cordon Bleu all three days we were in Switzerland. I know I already mentioned that, but I think it’s that fun of a fact.
- Zurich is the most expensive city in Europe. My bank account can attest to that.
TIPS & TRICKS:
- Get a window seat if your flight is during the day so you can see the Alps. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s a cloud and what’s an Alp.
- Take public transport! They have a great bus/rail/train system. Don’t take taxis if you want money at the end of your trip.
- Ask if they have an English menu, and if they don’t, my go-to was to ask what their favorite meal is and would get that.
- They speak a slightly altered version of German in Switzerland. When we arrived, we both realized we were clueless as to what language everything was written in. We asked our cab driver (maybe he charged for advice, I don’t know) and he told us German primarily. I read in my Zürich city guide (I am my mother) that they have a few alterations, like saying merci instead of danka for thank you. Seemed random to me, but whatever.
- Renting a car from the airport on the day of our travels made it so much easier. We didn’t have to worry about leaving our bags anywhere or getting to the airport on time because we were already there with our bags once we dropped off the car!!
- Save your money!!! You’re going to be spending most of it! (:
This section is entitled “Hey, I’m Still A Teacher Abroad! Here’s How That’s Going!”
I only have 3 weeks left with my students here. Well, I only have 3 weeks left in general, but they will undoubtably be the hardest goodbye. I love the staff at Downview and my host family dearly, as well as living in England in general, but children have a way of sneaking into our hearts and making any sort of goodbye heartbreaking. I can tell I’ve snuck into their hearts as well, as every day they ask “How much longer until you have to leave?” and whine once I tell them. This is obviously a good thing, if they were excited I was leaving I should be picking a different profession. That unfortunately doesn’t make it any easier. May 26th will be a very hard day for me at Downview Primary School.
On a brighter note, some of my students told me something so sincere, sweet, and simple that I about teared up. One of my boys asked if I will be a teacher in America, and once I told him yes another boy said “That’s good, because you’re a really good teacher.” I thanked him, and one of the girls next to me said “Miss Stahl, I wish you would stay here and be my teacher. You’re so kind and pretty.” Simple right? It’s not “Oh Miss Stahl you have changed my life, greatest teacher of all-time, I will never be the same, I am going to move to America just so you can be my teacher” sort of things. My mission has always been to have students enjoy learning and to treat them with kindness. It was reassuring for me to have been told both in one conversation, and I was struck again by how excited I am to spend the rest of my life teaching.
I was able to spend some time outside of school with a good portion of the teaching staff celebrating Adam, my host teacher, and Sam, one of the Year 2 teachers, who are both getting married this summer. It was wonderful to spend time with these lovely people as friends more than colleagues. I was asked multiple times “Can you just stay here?! Can we keep you?” and it made me so happy (and sad) to hear! With everything coming to an end soon, it makes me happy that I’m leaving with so many quality relationships. I’ve been blessed with such excellent people.
I’m trying to juggle traveling, teaching, working on my school assignments, spending time with my host family, applying for jobs, and trying to sleep a little bit. It’s been hard for me to fit writing this blog in there as well, and for that I must apologize. It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I’m a fan of prioritizing and this doesn’t quite beat “go through the entire family tree of Henry VIII with your students” or “apply for jobs that will begin the rest of your career.”
One last note…IT’S MAY! And you know what that means my mostly-Hoosier-readers! It’s the best month of the year! With the Grand Prix of Indianapolis coming up and the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month, I have never felt so homesick. I want all sorts of pictures, videos, and stories of your May festivities. Going from being a 500 Festival Princess this past year and doing something race or Indiana related every day to being in England where most people don’t know what the Indy 500 is has been quite the change. But don’t worry, folks, I’ll fly in 12 hours before the race begins and will be in Turn 3 as I have been the past 11 years (except last year, tehehehe)!
(This quote is for you, mommy .x)
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
– John Muir