Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lies, Lasagna, and Laundry

Dad and I got a free train ticket from the airport to Geneva. We found the hostel pretty quickly and when we walked in the door Brian was sitting there waiting for us. Pretty convenient considering we had absolutely no way to reach him. We checked in and walked across the street to a Pizzaria Roma, a chain we've eaten at twice now in Switzerland. Craig and Brian had pizza, I had the lasagna. It was by far the best meal I've ever had in my life. The lasagna was baked in a ceramic dish and half submerged in a wonderful cheesy sauce. Interesting note, if the menu isn't in English you can just look for "lasagna," it stays the same in German, French and probably just about every language.

The next day we went to get our bikes from John, the owner of bikeswitzerland. John was really nice and answered all our questions and explained the gps, phones, poniards, and other tour related stuff. We're riding super nice BMC touring bikes with two side poniards and a handlebar bag (where I keep my camera handy). I was worried about everything fitting but the poniards can fit a ton of stuff and we all have plenty of spare room. We usually average between 12 and 16mph when we're not trying to pick our way through a town. Mostly we follow the gps John provided which has our route programmed in. It's a little slow to update sometimes and we've had some moments of confusion at weird intersections.

In my earlier post I said we'd be staying in hostels the entire trip, I lied. We only have a few nights in hostels, so far just Geneva. The hotels we've been staying in have actually been pretty nice and the fresh croissants, fresh bread, cheese, coffee, yogurt, and fruit for breakfast makes waking up that much easier. The bread is seriously on a whole different level here. Great Harvest has been thoroughly put to shame. I also mentioned in an earlier post that we'd be doing laundry in sinks. That has actually been the case. It's not ideal but hopefully the next hostel we stay at will have a laundry machine... I'm not getting my hopes up.

I have much more to write about but it's 11:48 here and I think we may try to hike tomorrow and climb around in some churches. Tune in next time to hear if the Germans or French Swiss are more friendly, if they're really serious about the whole Swiss watch thing, and what the women are like here. See yah!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mind the Gap

London is frickin huge! My dad and I stayed in a youth hostel (apparently their definition of "youth" is pretty flexible) near St. Pancras Station and King's Cross Station (yes, the one in Harry Potter). We were also directly across from the British Library. The big red brick building houses tons of old manuscripts. They conveniently keep all the really famous ones in a single gallery so tourists can access them easily. Of particular interest to me was a couple copies of the Magna Carta, the original Alice in Wonderland in Lewis Caroll's own hand (and the original woodblocks used to illustrate the first printed copy! Awesome!), a page of Shakespeare's handwriting, and the Gutenburg bible, which is way bigger than I thought it'd be.

If you enjoy architecture, go to London! the buildings there are amazing. It's a financial capital so there are brand new banks, malls, and skyscrapers with crazy designs. All this is right next to (sometime adjoining) ancient buildings with medieval architecture.

You can't really say you've been to London unless you take a tour on the double decker buses so we hopped on somewhere right in the middle of London. The buses are great and worth the 50 pounds unless you sleep the entire time like my Dad did... o.k. he didn't sleep the ENTIRE time, but he was nodding off for a good 30 minutes. Can't really blame him though, we only slept a couple hours on the plane which meant we were somewhere around hour 20+ with only airplane sleep and serious jet lag. Somehow we did the library, the bus tour, and Westminster Abbey (fun fact: Darwin and Newton are buried there... who would've thought!)

The last stop of the double decker tour put us out in leicester square where Tom Cruise happened to be attending the premiere of Knight and Day (new movie with Cameron Diaz, she may have been there too). We got there just in time to see Tom walk the carpet and pose for the cameras (on a giant screen; even though we were about 100 feet away they had it blocked off with covered fences from the general public.

Overall London was a little too crowded for my tastes. It was like Seattle + LA. There were hundreds of people on every block and the squares were like music festivals without the music. Just tons of people smoking cigarettes. Very cool to see but I'm not sure I could handle more than a couple days there at a time.

Yesterday was our first day on the bikes. I have to shower and conquer some hills today so I can't elaborate now but I'll post about Switzerland as soon as I can! (it's friggen rad)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

it's a bird, it's a plane, no it's... actually a plane.

Got to Sea-Tac this morning around 8 which means I had to wake up at 6... which means I had about 5 hours of sleep... which means this flight to LAX will contain hundreds of yawns. We flew (no pun intended) through security which was a great relief. Security is definitely the worst part of airports besides waiting for your flight. Although sometimes it can be fun to watch for terrorists or unattended luggage...

I picked up the latest issue of the New Yorker to read during the longer flight to London. I usually read Harper's but the New Yorker has an article about the new blockbuster movie Inception which I saw last night so I made an exception. There's also a pretty extensive article about Blagojevich. Interesting guy.

The flight has gogo wifi Internet so I'm actually blogging from somewhere about 33,000 feet up in the sky. I suppose this is a pretty cool feature for business men on longer flights but I can't help but feel a little disgusted with myself for changing my facebook status on an airplane...

Mobile Blogging from here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What To Expect:

Just a couple days before the big trip. I've been going over the itinerary and some of the trip details and i'd like to share a bit of that so you'll have an idea of what we're expecting. http://www.bikeswitzerland.com/ is the company we're doing the tour with. They will be providing us with bikes, panniers, and a map, among other things. Generally they have two different routes; there's a 'lite' route and a 'challenge' route. We decided to go on the lite route even though my father would probably love the challenge route which goes through the alps and includes a day of hiking as well. Each day we'll travel about 30 to 40 miles on our bikes, making plenty of stops for photos and food i'm sure.

Some people stay in hotels and have BikeSwitzerland transport their luggage to wherever they may be staying that day. The Funcke family is too badass (or too frugal) to pay for that kind of unnecessary luxury. Everything we need for the 10 day trip will have to fit on the bikes. We'll be doing laundry in public sinks, staying in hostels, and smelling fantastic. I can't wait!

If you want to follow some of the stuff we'll be doing in each city, all you have to do is check the website and click on that city for more information. We're following the lite (red) route.