A Travellerspoint blog

Lyon

thunderstorms and yummy food

storm 10 °C

AHHH Lyon. What a beautiful city. Of course we were not able to fully appreciate its beauty when we were first arrived for several different reasons. First of all, it was night time so we could not really see much at the time. Secondly, it was raining and when we left Freiberg it was like 25 degrees. Thirdly, the hostel we were staying at had horrible directions so were lost until we met some random Australian also trying to find the hostel (but he had a map dun dun dun). The main sticking point for us not really enjoying Lyon that first night, however, was the massive mountain we had to climb to get to the hostel. Ok, so it really wasn't a mountain, but when you are carrying a 16 kg backpack up this massive steep hill in the middle of a thunderstorm in a humid town...let's just say when we got to the hostel we really could've used a free beer.

But we couldn't hate Lyon forever. Michaela noticed the awesome view we had from our window once we got to the room. (Of course when she tried to point it out to Breanne, she received a 'does it look like I'm interested in that right now?' and Breanne collapsed on the bed. Touché.)img_3581.jpg That first night, we hung out in the bar/lobby area and met another Canadian and a Scottish guy. The Canadian we were not so fond of (he was weird and creepy and we thought he was gay but was denying it sooo yeah) but the Scottish guy, Douglas, was awesome! Apparently he was living off nothing in France (he kept overdrawing his account and couldn't figure out why they hadn't frozen it yet) and didn't have a return ticket or a guaranteed place to stay but he wasn't worried because he had clothes and a guitar.

Anyways, the next day we went for a tour of what is known as Vieux Lyon. img_3602.jpgWe decided just to walk and look around and figure out where we were after we had gotten lost. We ended up finding all the sites we wanted to see in this area (the giant Rollerblader statue, the famous EXPENSIVE hotel with the amazing fountain in the square in front of it). It was pretty cool. We also managed to find a cute restaurant to eat in for cheap (OK yes we were about to go eat in Subway and got talked into trying the food in the cafe beside it, but hey, at least we're trying). We shared a delicious salad and a strange but yummy pizza which had a fried egg on it. Michaela of course did not eat the part with the egg.

That night we hung out with the weird Canadian and Douglas. We were going to go out, but it was raining again and nobody felt like getting soaked so we did not go out and get inebriated. (Aren't ya'll proud of us.)

Saturday rolled around and we headed to the Nazi museum (surprise surprise). It was extremely interesting and had lots of information. We would have had a great experience, but the woman working at the front desk was a bitch and it ruined it for us. She was fine when we first walked in because Breanne spoke to her in French, but then we couldn't think of one word to ask a question and she was like 'oh, you speak english?' in a very snotty tone then started being extremely rude about everything. Ugh, at least we're trying.

Anywho, we strolled around Lyon for awhile then went and bought some food and wine for that night. We were planning on going to a club with Douglas called 'Le Fish' which is basically a bar on a boat. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of 'Breanne is very sick and can't do anything' week. We ended up going to bed early and had to say bye to Douglas as we were leaving the next day.

So Sunday rolled around bright and early, but we were ok because we actually got eight hours of sleep and were not hungover (what a nice feeling). We headed over to the train station, jumped on that train and headed to...

Well, you'll have to wait until the next blog for that story.

Love you and miss you all!

Bree and Mick

Posted by bouffner 13:43 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Freiburg

Black Forest Crazy Rollercoaster

rain 10 °C

Our train left Munich in the afternoon, so we got to Freiburg later on in the evening. We couchsurfed in Freiburg, so when we got to the train station we tried to figure out how to get to our hosts' place. Unfortunately, we had no idea how to use the buses. Freiburg's bus system is the craziest system in the whole planet I would assume. No sense whatsoever. The best part was the times that were posted at all the stops were from 2008, and the 2009 schedule was nothing close to the old one. Really cool Germany. Anyhow, we finally decided to just call our host and he was super nice and came to pick us up. Ended up that they lived in a little suburb/town thing a few minutes outside of Freiburg, so this could have been why we were so lost.

After getting a little tour we reached our hosts' place. The wife was actually Canadian, and moved to Germany after they got married. They had a 5 year old daughter, Alexandria, who was super cute, and could speak German and English fluently. She enjoyed showing us her English singing Barbies she got in Canada. We just took it easy that night, and watched a movie with our hosts', which was crazy because we have not watched TV since we got here. (BTW - it was Joaquin Phoenix's new movie, Two Lovers or something... totally crazy. This is why he went nuts). We headed to bed because we decided the next day we were going hiking in the Black Forest (this was our main purpose of going to Freiburg).

Of course we get up in the morning, and it is cool and windy and raining off and on. But, we only had two days in Freiburg so we had to suck it up and head to the mountains. Unfortunately we were both sick (Munich not only killed our livers but also our immune systems) so we popped some pills, bought some Vicks (Wicks in German) and headed out. After about an hour bus ride, img_3527.jpgTHE craziest bus ride through winding mountain roads and tiny little German towns, we were in a little town called Todtnau. There were so many little tiny ski towns throughout the Forest, this would be an unreal place to be in during winter. We picked Todtnau because there is a place where you take a chair lift up to the top, then there are plenty of hiking trails, and you can take this crazy roller coaster to get back down again. We hiked for a few hours, and luckily it warmed up and the sun even came out a bit so it was pretty decent. Michaela got very excited to be in the Black Forest. Can't remember exactly how high we were, but it was high. img_3542.jpgWe found a tiny little cabin that Breanne was quite nervous about. We of course had to take this roller coaster down. The signs said it was kind of like a luge (our little German that we have picked up along the way helped us translate that).. it kind of was. You got to sit in these little luge like things and control the speed yourself. Breanne went flying down.img_3537.jpg It was pretty sweet, even if we were the oldest people without children on it. The town of Todtnau itself was pretty tiny, a little sketchy, so we walked around for a bit but then caught the bus back. By the time we got back to Freiburg it was after supper, so we grabbed something to eat then headed back to our hosts' place (this time we figured out the bus). We didn't want to intrude on them, because the husband was really really REALLY into couch surfing, but the wife was actually pretty standoffish and kind of rude to us, so we didn't feel comfortable when she was around. But we made the most of it. That night we just walked around Freiburg for awhile. All the houses here have mechanical shutters that go over the windows at night, it is pretty weird. You are like blocked off from the outside world with steel curtains, strange. img_3577.jpg

Next day we were leaving Freiburg and off to Lyon, so we toured around the city for a few hours before we caught the train. Freiburg is an absolutely beautiful city, SO German with the little Hansel and Gretel houses. There were tons of crazy older German tourists running about. It was actually nice out that day so we didn't want to leave, but we eventually made our way back to the good ol' DeutcheBahn (train).

Posted by bouffner 10:54 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Salzburg

The Hills Are Alive...

rain 12 °C

Today we headed on a day tour to Salzburg, Austria. Started a little early, our tour left at 9:15am. Michaela was still drunk so the morning was quite eventful.

The train ride was about two hours to Austria so we had a nap then got prepared for the rainy weather. As we approached Salzburg the Alps came into view and we were in awe for a few moments. When we got to the city we did a quick hour and a half tour with our guide, then we were allowed to head off on our own for 3 and a half hours. That is really why we picked this tour because it was basically do it yourself.

We headed up to the old fortress on the mountain.. this thing is ancient, Medieval.michaela_011.jpg We walked around, checked out some old torture techniques so watch out Canada. We then went back down to the old town to check out Mozart's birthplace, sang a few Sound of Music songs while we visited sights from the movie, went into the MOST amazing church we have been in so far (which has been a lot) and prayed for awhile. Because German beer has our souls.

We had a hot chocolate, walked around some more and took in more sights, then headed back to the group for the train ride home. Salzburg is absolutely stunning, unfortunately it was raining all day long so we were pretty wet and cold but made the most of it. Vienna is definitely in our next trip!!

Tomorrow we are heading to Freiburg.. the Black Forest! We are couchsurfing with a family there so hopefully there will be a computer we can upload some pics with!!!

Hope everyone is doing well and not eating any pork!

Ciao
Michaela and Breanne

Posted by bouffner 12:57 Archived in Austria Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

MÜNCHEN

German beer has our souls...

rain 6 °C

So we had our second experience with a night train for our trip from Paris to Munich... this time we were a little smarter though. After the experience of sleeping on the floor and being paralyzed we decided to splurge (20 euros!!) and get a sleeper cabin with beds. Best idea we could have had. Although the cabin was tiny and the beds left much to be desired, there were only three of us and we got a super night sleep... night trains aren't so bad anymore.

7am rolled around pretty quickly... we got to Munich and headed to our hostel after Michaela bought a bottle of water and chugged it in about 2 seconds (you can't drink the water in the bathrooms on the trains.. at least you are not supposed to.. it is really not that bad.... hehehe). We looked like messes but hey that's the backpacker look right? Unfortunately the weather was crap but we were lucky that we got to check into our room right away (this never happens usually) so we went for breakfast (WHICH by the way is the absolute BEST at this hostel... huge buffet of food for 3 euros.. not just cornflakes and dry bread and strange strange jam...of course you can still have cornflakes if your little heart desires). We had a good nappy poo, took some hot showers, and did some laundry, checkin email kind of thing.

We got up early the next day to head to Dachau.michaela_001.jpg Just incase anyone doesn't know (although you all should says Michaela) Dachau was the first concentration camp built in WW2, about 45 min outside of Munich. It was the concentration camp that every other camp was modelled after, and was probably one of the most brutal also.michaela_002.jpg It is one of the best preserved ones with original gas chambers, barracks, headquarters, etc. We got some audio guides (cheaper than the tour) and walked around for about 3 hours, maybe more. As soon as we can upload pictures we will put up a lot as this was the most sobering experience we have had so far. To walk through the gas chambers and touch the ovens was ridiculous.michaela_003.jpg Everything is preserved, from torture chambers to the train tracks.

We took the bus back and headed to our first real beer hall... Weisses Brahaus.. mmmmmm. Michaela has been waiting for this food. And did it ever satisfy. The schnitzel was the size of a football and the potatoes were like heaven. Even the salad tasted more green than normal (maybe because we never eat). We tried some fantastic Weisses originale beer and even splurged on dessert... first dessert the whooole trip. It was.. get ready for this.. apple fritters baked in beer dough served with whipped cream, ice cream, and cinnamon and a whole lot of sugar. Normally Michaela would not put this near her body but we had to do it. AFterwards we could not get up, so we sat around for awhile and watched the drunk old men.. even made some eye contact ooooh baby. We headed back to the hostel but first took in a concert in the main square Marienplatz where Breanne had a strange experience with a man who walked by, grabbed her hip, made a clicking noise and rambled something in German. Sometimes it is good when we can't speak the language. We just went home.

Saturday we headed to the New Munich Free Walking Tour. We did the Berlin tour and had such a good time so we thought it was a good idea... was it ever. Our tour guide was this crazy guy from Texas who wanted to be German. He was even in full lederhosen the whole tour. michaela_005.jpgMunich is pretty crazy actually. People still dress in the old lederhosen and traditional outfits daily. They have some pretty nice, modern ones. It is not uncommon, but very expensive for a real outfit. Anyways, the tour lasted a few hours and we got to take in a lot of amazing sights. We saw a ton of churches, the Glockenspiel (we got to see it dance and sing!), walked Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch walk, saw a ton of memorials, the Hofbrauhaus, etc. Afterwards a few of us went with our tour guide to this little pub that served original Bavarian stew and we got a free beer (so of course we went). SOOO good.

It was so good infact that we decided to go on the Pub Crawl that night put on by the guy who owned that pub, as we got more free stew :) and beer... and shots.. We met up with the group, and met these 2 crazy girls from Slovenia. There were also a bunch of American guys but lately all we meet is Americans and it is literally driving us crazy so we ignored them. We ended up getting right trashed by like 11 and headed to Americanos, a sweet little disco. Stayed there for awhile, then headed to Wombats (our hostel) bar because it is a pretty pumping scene. We didn't last very long, but Breanne managed to get a few tips for playing pool (Michaela met some crazy Italian man who could barely speak English but that doesn't matter much when you are drunk enough to speak any language).

Sunday we woke up, a little dizzy, and headed to the old town to tour. We went to St. Peters Church, one of the oldest churches in Germany, climbed the tower to the top (for someone who doesn't like heights very much, Breanne seems to find herself on top of lots of tall buildings).michaela_006.jpg The view of Munich is supposedly the best you can get, and it was definitely breathtaking. We went to the Hofbrauhaus.. this is the oldest and world-renowned beer hall. We bought a few souvenirs (beer mugs), looked around a little. We headed to the Englischer Garten to check out the nude "beach".. More like a field where there are a lot of naked old men and families playing soccer. Of course for us foreigners it was interesting so we have a really great picture to show you all. michaela_007.jpg

After this we decided that we could not leave Munich without taking in a few beers and a meal the Hofbrauhaus so we got all pretty and headed down there again. We took a seat (it wasn't that busy so we got in right away), and took awhile to order. michaela_010.jpgToo many choices. Breanne ended up with turkey ragout and spatzle, and Michaela had some spatzle and took a chance and ordered some veal sausages. They freaked Breanne out because they were white (maybe baby cows don't have as much colour yet? Dad help me on this one?) but they were actually quite delicious. As we started drinking our first beer, two guys who were sitting behind us asked if they could have a picture with us.. I guess they didn't think we were foreign. So we took a few pictures, had a few laughs, then ended up getting free beers out of it. This time we tried the dark beer and damn was it good. Of course you have to hold the steins properly and Prost the correct way. We ordered dessert (yet again.. after Munich we won't need to eat for a week because our stomachs are shrunk too small to handle all this food) and ended up moving over to the table with the guys. These guys were actually catching a train out of Munich that night, so they just decided to drink as many steins as they could before they left. It was quite entertaining. Of course after a few German beers Breanne and Michaela have the good idea to talk to the old german men. Fully decked out in Lederhosen and old enough to have their own table in the Hofbrauhaus (definitely will put these pictures up for you all). michaela_008.jpgmichaela_009.jpgWe toured around upstairs (stood in the room where Hitler spoke!) and then went back to the hostel. We thought that we would just hit the hay.. but we decided to check out the bar. Ended up seeing this group of Irish guys who were sitting across from us at the Hofbrauhaus, so we started partying with them. Irish guys are nuts. Absolutely hilarious and maaaaan can they drink. The best thing about Europe is that we never buy more than one drink a night so we couldn't leave, even though we were heading to Salzburg the next day at 9am. So of course we were responsible adults and we went to bed at a decent hour of 2:30am.

The next morning rolled around quite quickly....

Posted by bouffner 12:22 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Berlin-Paris

Night Trains and Orange Men

rain 14 °C

OOOKKKKKK so last you all heard from us, we were heading to catch our train out of Berlin to head back to.....PARIS. Yes, we understand that it doesn't really make any sense to zigzag across these countries, but we wanted to do a Vimy Ridge Tour out of Paris and decided we'd go back while some of our friends that we had made were still in the city.

So yes, we arrived at the train station in time to board our night train. OH MY GOD. So we figured we would just reserve recliner seats in the night train because it was cheaper (4 euros instead of 30). BAD IDEA. We had the craziest time that night. At first, it was ok. In our compartment, it was just us and this man with his daughter. They fell asleep on the one side, and we sprawled out across the seats on our side. BUT halfway through the trip, we had another person come into our compartment and ruin our train ride. He was this crazy Asian guy (you all know how Michaela feels about crazy Asians....) who apparently HAD to sit beside us and sprawl out, pushing us into the corner. Well, that was not a very comfortable. So Michaela had the great idea to sleep on the floor under the chairs. And Breanne half layed down beside this creepy Asian who stared at her while she slept. Let's just say, we both felt paralyzed about two hours later and didn't get much sleep that night. Of course, it didn't help that at about 3 AM some man came into our compartment basically yelling something in German and holding a badge. Michaela put her hands up and was thinking ''OMG we're Canadians, we didn't do anything.'' After Breanne woke up completely, she realized that all he wanted was our passports. So why he didn't he just say so???

Ok, so after this very long train ride, we finally arrived in Paris at 9:30 AM. We felt like we were going home (because Paris was our frist stop, and it was sooo familiar to us). We immediately went and bought a phone card because our families had been freaking out about not being able to contact us. Sorry about that guys, but they don't sell French phone cards in Germany. After that, we headed to our hostel to hang out and check in. Our friend Jannes was working so we hung out with him and he let us into our rooms early (you're really only allowed to check in at 3, he let us in around 1:30). We just showered and got ready, then at 4, we headed to an Irish pub with our friends Pat and Jaf to watch a 'football' game. What a crazy experience. We were some of the only girls in the middle of this pub filled with drunk football fans, and we didn't really know what was going on (obviously we've watched soccer before, but it's never been that intense for us).

After the game, we went back to the hostel and had a great supper of chicken, greasy potatoes, canned vegetables, chips, and WINE. Yum. This was where we met up with Jannes and made plans to go to a bar that Jannes knew and said would be fun on a Saturday night. So Jaf, Michaela, Jannes and Breanne headed to the bar and well...you all know what happens at bars. (Not drinking alcohol, we swear). It was a really cool place with a live band playing (Breanne was excited, it was a Jazz band) and some of the other workers at the hostel came out after they were done their shifts. It was a great night, all in all.

The next day, we had one of our first EXTREMELY lazy days in about a month. Breanne had too much wine so she wasn't in the mood to walk anywhere. So we just did laundry and hung out in the lounge area. Michaela went out for lunch with Jaf and Pat to this really neat cafeteria/buffet/fast food/really good food restaurant called Flunch. You could get fish, lobster, steak, basically anything, but it was fast food. There was also an all you can eat buffet and it was amazing.

When everyone returned, we all napped in the basement on the couches. (Sorry Terri, that's why we didn't answer the phone when you called.)

That night, Breanne went to watch a German movie with Jannes (her translator) and several other German people in the cinema in the hostel. It was interesting, even if she couldn't understand all the humour in it. When that was over, she returned to find Michaela drinking wine in the bar with Jaf, Pat, and Laurence (a girl who works at the hostel who we met, really cool and from Quebec). We all just played pool all night and everyone except Breanne drank some more.

Monday, we went to the train station to figure out how we could possibly get to Vimy Ridge (because our tour was cancelled...again) by ourselves. We figured out that we could take a train to this town called Arras and then take a taxi to the memorial (because we are too young to rent cars out here...) We decided we would splurge on this because it's something we've been wanting to do this whole trip and it's not like we've spent lots of money on anything over than food or hostels (or alcohol). We then booked a train to get to Munich on Wednesday (another night train, this time we spent the 20 euros to get a bed).

That evening, it was just the two of us. We had a nice quiet night of playing cards....lots and lots of cards...we tought a French girl how to play rummy. It was very interesting. It was when we started thinking of ways to turn rummy into a drinking game that we decided to go to bed. Enough is enough, and we needed a night off.

Tuesday rolled around and Michaela was SSSOOOOO pumped. VIMY RIDGE WOOO. Anywho, we hopped on the train to Arras and found a Taxi quite easily to bring us to Vimy. When got there and immediately went to see the war monument. michaela1_036.jpgUnfortunately, they were doing repairs and we were not able to go right up to it. We did manage to get some pictures before the little orange men (the workers) started climbing all over it, so we were happy about that. michaela1_037.jpg

After that, we headed towards the information office. It started pouring rain when we were halfway there, so we ducked into a cemetary and hid under some columns. We suppose the weather was quite fitting for our location....When we finally reached the information office, we looked into the free tours they offered of the trenches and tunnels. We decided to take a tour of the tunnels michaela1_039.jpg(with lots of old people and fat Americans who had trouble climbing up the flight of stairs at the end) and just walked through the trenches ourselves.michaela1_038.jpg Michaela was a good enough tour guide for Breanne.

We got a Taxi back to Arras. This time, our taxi driver was crazy (the way taxi drivers should be) and we spent less to get back than we did to arrive. We ended up taking the train back to Paris and met up with Jaff for supper. Since that was our last night in Paris, we had a night of drinks with all our friends (the English boys, Jannes, Laurence, Fabian, Stephan) and we ended up meeting up with some other Canadian girls (one of them who worked at Montys in Winnipeg a while back, but she's from Quebec). We all had a great time and went to a Reggae bar which was dead but we made our own atmosphere and 'shook our booties' as Jannes said.

Wednesday came far too soon. While everyone was working, we prepared ourselves to leave. We did some last minute planning for Munich and booked a few hostels for our stay there. 7:30 rolled around and we had to say goodbye. It was very sad. That's the thing about making friends on trips like these I guess....

We got to the train station just in time to board our second night train. But that's a story for our next entry...

Love you and miss you all!

(Sorry, we still haven't found anywhere to upload pictures...)

Breanne and Michaela

Posted by bouffner 04:37 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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