I'm Olivia. I'm a perpetually hungry redheaded girl from New York. I eat, sleep and breathe Korean pop music. I speak French and am studying Korean language and business in school. This fall, I'm setting forth on an exciting and terrifying (seriously I'm so nervous I might pee) solo journey across Europe. Hopefully this experience is full of bright, fun, and exciting as well as ridiculously stupid experiences that I can share with you!
Red Cross Museum, Leukerbad, and Beginning of Bern
I feel like I've been all over the place in the last couple of days. I'm honestly pretty tired but I plan on sleepng in tomorrow and catching up on some lost hours! So since I last wrote I've traveled to two new places in Switzerland. Right now I'm in Bern.
I left Geneva at about 2 pm for a small village in the mountains called Leukerbad. Before I did that though, I woke up early and went to the Red Cross Museum. I took the bus this time, so I didn't end up spending a butt ton of time wandering aimlessly. My only problem was that I didn't eat breakfast so by the time I got there I was starving. Anyway, this museum was so cool! They had really neat interactive exhibits where you'd stand in front of people from all different backgrounds and situations and they tell their own stories. In order to start them you had to reach out and put your hand on their hand, so even though it was just a video, it was almost like you were connecting with them in a way. They also had this really interesting, yet cheesily named thing called the Wall of Dignity, and when you'd touch it, all of these colors would flow to your hands and follow the path your hand went. It was seriously really interesting, I wish I had taken a picture. There were really heartbreaking parts of the exhibit as well, like this entire wall of Rwandan children separated from their families during the genocide.
These were records of what happened to people during World War One...there were like 30 shelves of these little notecards divided up by country.
So after that I got on the train to Leuk, and from Leuk I took a 15 minute bus ride to Leukerbad. Leukerbad literally looks like it's Christmas 365 days a year (minus the snow right now but) I checked into my hotel, and that night I was pretty sure it was only me and one other family...it was almost eerily quiet. The woman was really nice and though I booked a dorm style room she upgraded me to a single room at no charge because I was only there two nights. Leukerbad is famous for its thermal baths...the one I went to was right near my hotel and was called Alpentherme. One thing I can't get used to in this part of Switzerland is that everything is written in German, and not much is written in French. I didn't know what the hell I was reading half the time. Anyway, I paid for 3 hours at just the baths. There's saunas and spa treatments there as well, but to be honest it was way too expensive. Just for the baths it was about 27 francs. Also remember that time when I said I couldn't read any of the signs? Yeah so I went down the stairs and took at least 10 minutes trying to find the entrance to the baths. You're supposed to shower before you go in and then the entrance is through the showers but ain't nobody tell me that. But this was seriously relaxing. They have an indoor and outdoor section, and in the outdoor section there's like chairs in the water you can lay on and it gets all bubbly and jacuzzi like. Inside they had really high powered jets of water that you can get right under. My back was so sore from carrying my backpack that day, the water felt so good and definitely got some knots out of my back. The view from the baths was really really beautiful, but the air was really cold as it was about 7 pm when I got there.
I hate when there's random strangers in my pictures and I'm sure they don't really enjoy being part of my personal memories that I'm going to look back on and treasure for the remainder of my life. After that I changed and (you know having not eaten or anything) was starving. For some reason, there were tons of pizzerias...like almost exclusively pizzerias...yeah I don't know. But I ate this entire seafood pizza and damn, was it tasty.
Also this is Gluhwein, it's hot wine!! and they give you a cookie and sugar with it :) Switzerland actually has really good wine, but they don't export it so you won't really find it a lot of other places. Also I took some photos of the village,
So I went back to the hotel, and since I couldn't get wifi in my room, was up until 2:00 in the lobby in the dark. The woman leaves to go home at night (obviously she wouldn't hang around 24/7) but I COULDN'T FIND THE LIGHT SWITCH so there I was in the dark. The next day I had made plans with someone on CouchSurfing to go out and explore Sierre and Sion, which are about 10-20 minutes away by train. Because I don't have a working phone here, I had told him I would get to Sierre by 10:06, after picking out a train and bus. I left my hotel after breakfast at 9 am.
You would think it would be easy for me to find this bus station in a tiny village right? Wrong. For some reason I completely forgot how I got to my hotel so I spent maybe 40 minutes wandering around wondering what the station even looked like. My knowledge of German is very limited, fortunately a lot of people speak French and English, but I did know the word for station. I walked up to several people with a confused expression, saying, "Bahnhoff?" I got there eventually, but the bus driver wasn't leaving until 10:30. By the time I even got to Sierre, it was 11 and the person I was going to meet was nowhere to be found. Giving it up as a lost cause I found a cafe with Wifi and ate a sandwich there. Once I had wifi I was able to connect with him and we were able to meet up. We hiked up through some vineyards and he showed me this castle that people rent for events.
I took this one while I was wandering out on my own.
At first I was a little wary to travel around with a guy I had never met, but he was extremely polite, respectful, and fun to talk to! We drove to the village where his family lived and we walked around the mountains there. I got so pissed because the sun caused a glare on every single one of my photos but I did manage to get some.
ALSO I SAW MORE ANIMALS AND YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE ANIMALS
Except this cow hated me, she was not having it at all. I gave up and walked away from her.
He also bought me this really good cheese from a cheese hut in the middle of the mountains. Seriously, how Swiss can you get? He also told me that almost no one here eats the kind with holes in it we typically think of as "Swiss" cheese in the US. We stopped at a place for some wine and then he actually drove me all the way back to Leukerbad. What a nice guy! Normally I wouldn't advise meeting strangers but Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and I think as Americans we're often made to think the world is really really dangerous no matter where we go...and don't get me wrong, it can be in some places!
That night I was pretty tired so I just went out to eat. I ate Pasta Carbonara and drank a beer. There was a guy there playing the funniest music I've ever heard, I tried to record it but it got erased..just think of the most Swiss music you can think of...and that's it. I don't mean to stereotype but...it was pretty Swiss. Everytime I'd glance over at him I'd start laughing..
Also my hotel went from being empty to full of old people in one day...I'm not kidding. Really sweet old people. One woman actually thought I worked there (I was down in the lobby) and asked me for a drink..I knew where the juice was so I just went back and got it for her. She was really adorable. I woke up at 7 the next day for breakfast and drank waaay too much coffee. It might be why I'm still awake now to be honest. So I checked out and then took the bus at 1:30 and caught a train and was in Bern by 4 o clock. The place I'm staying is up three flights of stairs...I got my workout carrying my suitcase. I took the tram into town and found some dinner and found the Zytglogge, the giant clock in the town center.
I had duck at a Chinese/Thai restaurant. Couldn't read the german menu...welp. But this really hit the spot and to be honest I overcompensated for not eating lunch...My stomach hurt on the way home. After this dinner I craved something sweet, so I bought this expensive baby.
No regrets. None.
Okay also I got kind of a weird vibe from people in Bern and I think it was honestly because a) I had shorts on and was exposing (gasp!) my legs and 2) I had my pink platform converse on
It was mostly old ladies and they we're not subtle about their disapproving looks and to be honest it made me feel a little uncomfortable. It was really rude and...
here's an open letter to all disapproving individuals:
Dear everyone who got a problem,
I'm going to wear whatever I like and feel comfortable in.
Anyway I got back to the apartment I was staying in to find that her wifi had disappeared. I got so desperate I had to knock on the neighbor's door and ask them to use their phone. I had no idea when my host was coming back, but eventually she did and the Wifi is back on and working.
So I have one more night here and after that I will pass through Strasbourg on my way to Brussels.