Lausanne and Montreux, Switzerland

The best way to sum up Switzerland is by saying it is a postcard. Everything you see in Switzerland could be and probably is a postcard. It is so beautiful you start to doubt if it’s even real. Needless to say, I took a hundred thousand pictures of Switzerland. I have done my best editing down to only the really pretty ones of all the pretty pictures.DSCF2946This was on the overnight train from Ljubljana into Zurich. This was my last and best overnight train experience. It was all girls in my cabin and everyone got on and off at the same stops – no annoying guys getting on in the middle of the night. Also, I was so tired by this point that I slept really well.DSCF2947DSCF2952 DSCF2954My train from Zurich to Lausanne. Everything is fancy in Switzerland.DSCF2965My first peek at Lake Geneva.DSCF2967I wish it was a clearer day, but it was still pretty.DSCF2969Their claim to fame: the Olympics. I did not go into the museum.DSCF2973 DSCF2977I didn’t go to France this trip, but I looked at it!DSCF2981If I was an old person I’d camp out here all day too.DSCF2984 DSCF3003Me and a swan hanging out at Lake Geneva. It’s a rough life, I tell ya!DSCF3006Pretty much every caption can be, “It’s real pretty here.”DSCF3009Swiss Francs are so colorful. Also, if I was posing for a picture that was to be placed on my country’s money, I would smile. Be happy! You’re the face of the 100!DSCF3022I took a train to the nearby town of Montreux. Still on Lake Geneva, so there’s not much change in the scenery. ChateuChillonChateu Chillon. Full disclosure: this is not my picture. Unfortunately it did not suddenly become sunny.DSCF3035There’s my version. A bit dreary. DSCF3037 DSCF3044It was glorious to be back in cool weather again as well.DSCF3046DSCF3048

DSCF3050 DSCF3055I love any city that has a Freddie Mercury statue and Freddie Mercury Memorial Day. He had a recording studio in Montreux where he wrote and recorded his last songs.DSCF3057 DSCF3059Such a creepy mime. His basket was empty.DSCF3060So pretty and colorful.DSCF3062My last shot of Montreux before I headed to my amazing Golden Pass panoramic train to Lucerne. My Switzerland adventures were just beginning!

 

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A Night at Yankee Stadium

I have been eagerly awaiting baseball season and missing the Red Sox. Last season they were just atrocious so they can only go up from here. It was glorious news when they handed the Yankees their first Opening Day home loss since 1982! They were starting out on the right foot. I couldn’t go to Opening Day because of an audition, but I was very excited when my friend Kara said she’d go with me to their second game of the season last night!575674_685964461266_363293229_nI have never been to the new-ish Yankee Stadium, only the old stadium back in 2001 for the World Series against the Diamondbacks. I was excited to see their new home.DSCF4197I admit, it was very pretty in there.DSCF4199We got there nice and early and took a stroll around the park before it started.DSCF4200This stadium is huge. They have room for a food court! The stadium is really nice and spacious, but it’s very institutionalized. It just doesn’t have the history or feel of the old, smaller park. Clearly Fenway Park is better in almost every way… except when you want to leave and have no room to walk. Who cares? It’s worth it.DSCF4201We were hoping they’d have fried dough! We were planning on getting it later, but ended up being so frozen we didn’t even want food. Shocking!DSCF4202Sushi. They sell sushi. Made by a Japanese man in a Yankee hat.DSCF4204They sell Pepsi. Another reason they suck. We were so disappointed. DSCF4203Go Sox! I love baseball and will likely go to more Yankee games this season, but I’m so happy my first one got to be against Boston.DSCF4205 DSCF4206Zoomed out view from our seats. There were some Red Sox fans around us and it was really fun up there.IMG_0423Footlong Nathan’s hotdogs. A classic. Too bad I couldn’t have a soda with it. Damn you, Pepsi!IMG_0424So happy and so cold. It was 37 degrees and felt like 28. Yikes.IMG_0425The Red Sox were winning 6-0 in the 3rd inning and people left immediately. Time to move down to better seats!DSCF4210They must be so cold and miserable.DSCF4209Happily singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in our empty section.DSCF4215It’s my boyfriend! He did so well last night.DSCF4220We moved eeeeven closer for the 8th and 9th innings. It was real nice. DSCF4224I was so sad to see Youk in pinstripes. He is one of my favorites.DSCF4227And the Red Sox won 7-4!! Yaaaayy! Here’s hoping they can sweep the series tonight!

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My New 30 Day Challenge…

… is really hard. Working out is hard. This challenge is 3-fold. Every day I will do the P90X “Ab ripper” 15 minute video and eat a piece of fruit. I will also do my “Biggest Loser: Boot Camp” DVD 5 times a week. I have done all 3 of those things today and I’m tired. Like, really tired.

I had done the Boot Camp DVD a lot in Tokyo and it is hard but manageable. I had not, however, attempted the Ab Ripper video until today. I have never felt so inadequate in all my life. If you haven’t heard of P90X, it is an evil workout plan which is supposed to make you real skinny. I knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t think it was going to kill me. And I’m not even doing the full thing! Just the abs! Holy hell. It is so hard. And I feel like shit because I can’t even do some of the moves! I’m that weak. Yikes. My roommate, Steven, gave me the video and he said it was hard and miserable for him (if you’ve seen my blog about him you’ll know he is muscley and gorgeous), so I never should have thought it was possible for me. But today is only day 1. Ugh, I guess it can only get easier. Steven even made me take a “before” picture today which I am not too happy about. I doubt it will ever be made public, but maybe if by some miracle I look really great in 30 days and want to show you what a heffer I am/was, maaaaybe I’ll post it later.

After I was done working out, I made myself a pasta dinner. Steven then lovingly told me I shouldn’t eat pasta and think it’s healthy. I had initially decided I wasn’t going to change my diet this month; one step at a time. But I’ve decided to try. So starting tomorrow, I’m going to buy vegetables (I heard the audible gasps if you know me) and cook some of his chicken and attempt to prepare a healthy, enjoyable meal. Who knows if that will happen, but I need to get there. I eat like a 500 pound man and I’ve just been lucky so far, but I need to change. I’m only holding myself to the working out and adding 1 fruit every day for my challenge, but I’m going to try to integrate healthy food into my life as well.

This is hard. Can I go back to my blogging challenge?

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Happy Eastaaaaah!!

It is Easter once again and while I don’t necessarily celebrate it like I “should”, I like any holiday that makes people happy. Here are some very happy Easter photos from the last 2 years.DSCN2457Two years ago in Japan. Maddie and I made Easter bonnets for all of the Trainwrecks. Including Duffy.DSCN2458Tokyo Disneyland had far and away the best Easter celebration I’ve ever seen. For a country that doesn’t even celebrate Easter, they really go all out.DSCN2383DSCN2397They say “Eastaaah” in Japan. So Happy Eastaaah!!DSCN2384Duffy is cross-dressed and ready for the Eastah parade!DSCN2463 DSCN2467 DSCN2473Ahh! Kawaii!!DSCN2413Sexushi, ne?! DSCN2499Oh, they looooove Mickey and Minnie. And who can blame them?Easter ParadeA candid of Maddie and me watching the parade. We’re freaks.DSCN2500The Trainwrecks posing in front of our old home, the Diamond Horseshoe.Easter DressesWe’re pretty princesses.DSCN2504That was one of my favorite days in Japan.DSCN2505Just ridiculous.DSCF0920Last year Josh and I met up with Emily at the Grove in LA to take our picture with the Easter bunny!IMG_0535I brought these ears back from Japan for my mom. Here she is sporting them at work. She should be wearing them right this minute.

And lastly, I will leave you with this picture of pure, unadulterated Easter joy:

enhanced-buzz-725-1364325451-0Ahhhhh!!! He’s SO happy!!  Happy Eastaaah!!

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Day 30! Ljubljana, Slovenia

I made it! I completed my first 30 day challenge of blogging every day! I’m proud of myself. I have my next 2 30 day challenges planned as well: next up I’ll be working out every day and in May I’ll be learning French! I bought Rosetta Stone levels 1-3 on Groupon and I’m really excited! I took French for 3 years in high school and used to be good at it, so I think it’s plausible for me to learn it again. But before I get ahead of myself, I still have one more blog to attend to.

I absolutely loved Ljubljana (pronounced lee-oo-blee-ahnah). DSCF2827I stored my bag in a locker and once again followed Rick Steves’ tour of the city. This was the walk to the main square.DSCF2830When I first got to the main square I initially wasn’t blown away. I had seen a ton of squares. It was nice, but not stunning. Then I read my ever-wonderful guide book’s description and the details about everything made it so interesting. I completely wouldn’t have given it a second thought without the book. At the beginning of my trip I thought I needed tours of cities in order to fully appreciate them. Wrong! I just needed a good guide book.DSCF2835DSCF2837When I was done with the square I crossed the very cool Triple Bridge to where 5 musicians were playing and singing gorgeous harmonies in front of the street market.DSCF2838Approaching the street market.DSCF2840I thought this market would be like every other kitschy tourist trap, but it wasn’t. Every stand was all hand-made souvenirs. I was very over the typical shit so this was so nice.DSCF2843DSCF2842I loved that. Words to live by on a coaster.DSCF2844I walked the whole market before going back to the designed glass I saw first. I got a pretty tea light holder that said Slovenia on it and it’s still on my desk now. And it was only 2 euros! Maybe I also liked it there because it was back to euros.DSCF2845 DSCF2850The second half of the market was fresh fruit which looked great except for all of the bees. Now I know why they sell so much honey here. Gross.DSCF2856Then I found my favorite thing ever. Thank you again to Rick Steves for pointing this out. It is a milk vending machine!! It is connected directly to a farm that provides fresh, raw cow milk! And it’s only 1 euro per liter! It was the best milk I had ever tasted and it was so cold and refreshing. I was so happy. DSCF2861After I got mine, it became wildly popular. I’m such a trend-setter.DSCF2857Cheese from a vending machine, however? No, thank you.DSCF2864Then there was a pretty flower market.DSCF2866DSCF2868Dragon BridgeDSCF2870Old Town Square. I was enjoying it here more and more.DSCF2873This is a bank.DSCF2882 DSCF2883Cobbler’s Bridge.DSCF2887I think one of my favorite things about the day was that I wasn’t in a rush and had no real expectations. I had 8 hours here and figured if I missed something I’d never know any better. But according to my book I don’t think I missed anything big. After walking around a bit more I came back to this spot to journal.DSCF2895As I was walking, I saw a restaurant giving away free samples. It was that yellow stand on the right.DSCF2897They were giving samples of a traditional Slovenian food called Idrija zlikrofi. It was basically tortellini with potato filling and it was so good. Between the liter of milk and the pasta, I was pretty full for very little money.

DSCF2899Next I hiked up the big hill to the castle. I could have taken the funicular but we all know I’m too cheap for that.  This was half way up.DSCF2901DSCF2905 DSCF2906I relented and paid the 3 euros to watch a silly movie about the history of the castle and go up to the top viewing platform. DSCF2916It was pretty up there with the Alps in the background.DSCF2921DSCF2917I was about to leave when I decided I’d just pop in to look at the chapel (I was pretty much over churches). In the chapel was a calligrapher who was in love with me. After asking where I was from he said the super slick pick-up line, “Oh, I thought you were from Heaven.” Wow. He made these little bookmarks for donations. I thought they actually looked really neat, so I asked for one. After finishing it, he decided to just make me another with the same font as the Book of Kells. That’s very nice of you, dude, but I only have 2 euros left so that’s all you’re getting. Then he asked me if I had a sister who would want one. I already told him I didn’t have money left and he said, “For you – free.” Alright, fine. So I got my mom and Maddie one. Pretty cool souvenirs for only 2 euros.DSCF2930Once I was done with the castle, I strolled around, sat and wrote in my journal, and enjoyed the afternoon.DSCF2933The gays are alive and well in Ljubljana.DSCF2935That’s a corn stand on the left! Is it a coincidence that my favorite cities all have corn stands in them? I think not.DSCF2941A walk back through the first square. I also picked up some groceries here before I headed to my train for Zurich. Everything I had ever heard about Switzerland said it was very expensive, so my goal was to buy as little food there as possible.DSCF2943I saw this on a train pulling into the station. “All good things are wild and free.” Who knew graffiti on a train would be so inspiring? I looked it up later and saw that it was a Henry David Thoreau quote.

What a wonderful day in a country I had known nothing about before visiting. It was a perfect day getaway. And don’t you fret, Monsieur Marius, I’ll keep blogging even though my 30 day challenge is over. I have a lot of beautiful Switzerland and skydiving pictures to post. I am excited to have these challenges now. Sure enough just like the video said, those 30 days passed either way, but now I have 30 blogs to show for it.

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Day 29: Zagreb, Croatia

After walking around with Marianne in Budapest, she and I chatted with one of our other roommates, Phoebe, for a very long time back in our hostel. Phoebe is a pilot in the Scottish Air Force and flies her own planes. She’s 21. Way to make me feel like shit. She showed us pictures of her flying and it was incredible. It was really interesting hearing her talk about how the sky is a huge freeway. I am so glad I got to meet some great, independent girls on the trip.

We had a fabulous time talking, but I didn’t have a fabulous time waking up to my alarm in the morning. I just didn’t. Oops. My train was at 6:15 and I woke up at 6:10. I guess I needed some extra sleep. The silver lining is I got to eat breakfast at the hostel. Since it was the same company as in Vienna, it had the 4euro breakfast buffet as well. Glorious! My guide books said I only really needed a half day in Zagreb anyway, so I wasn’t too worried.DSCF2742 DSCF2743The train ride ended up being beautiful as well!DSCF2745I had been doing so many over night trains lately and I knew if I got up for the 6:15 train I would have slept through that one too. It was really nice to stay awake, journal, and enjoy the view. I was getting much better at going with the flow, accepting my mistakes, and making the most of them.DSCF2747For part of the train ride I stood in the hallway near an open window and blasted my music and took these pictures. It was so nice.DSCF2757Double rainbow!

We stopped for a passport check going into Croatia and I got my first stamps from a train! Two girls in my car were also American, so we started talking for a while. They had been traveling for over 4 months! Wow.

The train was really nice, but we got into Zagreb an hour and a half late! What? I thought trains were on time. Strange. By the time I made it to my hostel it was 9pm. Shit. Luckily the one museum I was recommended by the Scottish girls was open until 10:30. AND then the reception guy at the hostel let me pay in euros and gave me just enough change in kunas to pay for the museum without needing to use the ATM there. So nice! He gave me directions and off I went to the strangest museum ever:

DSCF2797

Story of my life. This museum started as a traveling exhibition of personal belongings donated by people from their ended relationships. Some are out of revenge or spite, some are sad, some touching.DSCF2770Garter belt from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The description reads, “I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had.”DSCF2771A can of love incense from Indiana. “Doesn’t work.”

I really liked one of the descriptions of “a stupid frisbee”. I did not take a picture of the frisbee, but she said this was “her ex-boyfriend’s brilliant idea of a second anniversary gift. The moral was obviously that he should get smacked with it in the middle of the face next time he comes up with such a fantastic idea. Since the relationship is now preceded by the word “ex,” the frisbee remains in the museum as a nice memory and expelled negative energy. Feel free to borrow it if you like. P.S. Darling, should you ever get a ridiculous idea to walk into a cultural institution like a museum for the first time in your life, you will remember me. At least have a good laugh (the only thing you could do on your own).” Oo I like her.DSCF2785This one was the saddest/most touching story. It was from a relationship in Slovenia lasting from 1988-1998. “You talked to me of love, gave me small gifts every day; this is just one of them. The key to the heart. You turned my head; you just did not want to sleep with me. I realized how much you loved me only after you died of AIDS.”

I liked the museum because it showed how broken hearts and broken relationships are international.DSCF2804One of the few pictures I took that night of Zagreb. I decided to get up really early the next day to walk around the city and see it before I left for my day in Slovenia. DSCF2807Zagreb’s Square. Not as great as the other cities’.DSCF2809 DSCF2810I don’t think that’s far enough to justify building a funicular. I walked.DSCF2811Meh, the view was kind of plain.DSCF2813 DSCF2816I’ve never seen a church like that.DSCF2817That’s an interesting place to park.DSCF2819 DSCF2820Up before half of the market was even set up!DSCF2822 DSCF2824Already on my walk back to the train station. This is a lot prettier in the day. DSCF2825Overall I wasn’t too impressed with Zagreb, but I don’t think that’s a good representation of Croatia. I knew when I planned the rest of my trip that I could either take several days to go down to the Dalmatian coast to really see the beautiful part of Croatia or I could use those days and really see Switzerland. I’m more of a mountain than beach person, so I opted for Switzerland. I think I chose very wisely. After this short time in Zagreb I was off to a city I had never even heard of before, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Little did I know I was in for quite the treat!

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Day 28: Budapest, Hungary. Seriously. Go There.

Looking over these pictures makes me so happy. I’m so glad I stayed for 2 days. I could easily come back and stay for a week or more and just live in those baths. I just might.DSCF2575I started the day visiting the Parliament building. My book said to get there very early in the summer to book a tour or they’ll sell out. Unfortunately I could not get my ass out of bed in time and the next tour in English wasn’t for another 3 hours. If I had taken that it would have killed my day, so I just asked what the next open tour was. They had one in German beginning in 20 minutes. Sold. I won’t understand anything, but I’ll get to see it.DSCF2580Das ist die schone Parlamentsgebaude.DSCF2581Das sind die Treppen.DSCF2584Das sehr verzierten Decke.DSCF2585Die Wachen und die ungarischen Kronjuwelen.DSCF2587Die ungarische Krone.DSCF2591I’d just be beating a dead horse at this point.DSCF2595 DSCF2601 DSCF2614The statue on the bridge is of their old Prime Minister who is now always watching Parliament. DSCF2609

The Hungarian Jewish WWII Memorial.DSCF2616Oh hey, Ronnie! Funny seeing you here!DSCF2620 DSCF2621We should have more squares in America. New York has a bunch – Times Square, Union Square, etc. – but we need more.DSCF2622That looks magnificent right about now.DSCF2623I love that this is a thing there.DSCF2625St. Stephen’s Basilica… just wait to hear what they have inside.DSCF2627They have a pretty interior and alter and….DSCF2635… a decrepit hand in a box. Lovely. What the hell is it with European churches thinking it’s ok to display ancient body parts/blood? It is called the Holy Right Hand and here is the description on the plaque:

“History of the Relic, Hand of King Saint Stephen Founder of State: King Stephen died on 15th August, 1038. On 15th August, 1083 he was canonized in Szekesfehervar. His right hand found intact has been highly esteemed by the nation ever since. It had an adventurous fate: it had been kept in Bihar (Transylvania), Ragusa (Dalmatia, now Dubrovnik), then Vienna, from where it was brought to Buda in 1771. In 1944 it was carried away to the west, it was returned to Hungary on 19th August, 1945.”

How ridiculous. The adventure of the creepy, shriveled hand. AND just like with the blood of Jesus in Bruges, you have to “donate” 2 euros (or whatever they have in Hungary) for the lights to turn on so you can see the hand. Unbelievable. Luckily, someone else paid and we all snapped pictures. Here’s a closer look from the side, but skim over it if you think it’s too creepy.DSCF2639Ew.DSCF2643After my wonderful time visiting hands in Pest, I took a bus up to the Pest side to see Buda Castle and this beautiful view.DSCF2641Prettiest gelato you’ll ever see. How bored was the first person who made this? Very, very bored.DSCF2644So, so incredibly beautiful!!DSCF2645DSCF2663Buda CastleDSCF2660DSCF2673Teeny-tiny Trevi Fountain. Not really, but close.DSCF2678A building with gunshots still left from WWII.DSCF2679St. Matthais Church. It’s up on the Buda side near the castle.DSCF2686Fisherman’s Bastion. I absolutely loved this spot. Here’s a reason why:DSCF2697It had such a beautiful panoramic view of the city.DSCF2688There were all these cute columns, towers, and walkways you could explore. But they all pretty much just led you to the same view. They used to be watch towers.DSCF2705After my second day walking around, I decided to go to the other very famous baths, Gellert baths. Rick Steves said these were more traditional but not as great as the one I went to the night before. I really liked the other one but still wanted to go to the more famous one.DSCF2711This is the picture I saw in a lot of books before going. This whole process of renting lockers and where to go was very, very confusing. Seriously don’t go to Budapest without Rick Steves’ book. He walks you through exactly what everything means and where to go.DSCF2708They didn’t have a “fun pool” outside, but they did have an insanely powerful wave pool. This was no Big Surf wave pool. When those waves start you are thrown around. This would never fly in America because someone would sue them. Another reason why I love Europe.

I had a lot of fun in that wave pool, but Rick Steves was right. Go to the other one. It has much more to do that you could (and want to) stay a whole day there. I splurged (not even that much) on a massage at the Gellert Baths which was really nice though. I wish I had more time to spend at the baths, but I think I’ll go back someday.

DSCF2719After my time at the bath I wanted to take some pictures of Budapest at night. I knew it would be beautiful and I wasn’t wrong. Like always. When I was on the tram here, I had my first lonely moment. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it would have been nice for someone to experience the baths and Budapest with because I loved it so much. Not 1 minute later I hear someone call my name. It was one of my Scottish hostel roommates, Marianne! She was on her way back after the baths too! I told her that I wanted to go and take pictures and she wanted to join me. It was so great. We walked around on the promenade and talked for quite a while. She had recently become fed up with her life and job in Scotland so she sold her car, got rid of her apartment, and moved to Spain to teach English. She’s done with that for now and just traveling around until she decides what to do next. I love that!! I love that she had the guts to change her life when she was unhappy. It’s amazing. She was so incredible and it ended up being a perfect night. DSCF2737Buda Castle again, just prettier.DSCF2721Gresham Palace that I saw the day before looked so fantastic at night.DSCF2722We walked across the bridge because I wanted to take a picture of my favorite building:DSCF2729DSCF2732DSCF2733Marianne and me with the Parliament building. I still message back and forth with her. She’s back in Spain still loving life. It was so nice to meet another girl traveling alone.

To sum up Budapest: it’s amazing. I’ve convinced myself I need to go back.

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