Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kara's Parents Last Day in Stockholm

We had an amazing time in Switzerland with my parents but we only had one more day to show them Stockholm before they flew home so we tried to make it count.

On Wednesday, August 27th I took my parents on a walk around our neighborhood.  (I posted earlier that we did this the morning before we left for Switzerland but I got the days mixed up and my OCD isn't going to let me keep it in the wrong order so you can skip over the next few pictures because they are just copied and pasted from the last blog.)

We walked around by the waterfront by our apartment before going to Drottningholm.
This tree is in the park by our apartment.  The middle of the tree is filled with cement but they added lines to make it look like tree bark.
These grass squares were full of people in the summer.
 The waterfront area by our apartment was recently redone just a few months before we moved into our apartment.  It is one of the most popular waterfront areas in Stockholm and it is pretty obvious why that is the case.

 I love this view.  I pass this spot when I run.  We are definitely going to miss our little island when we move back home.

We hopped on the metro and then a bus before arriving at Drottningholm which is the summer palace of the royal family and where they actually live.  I think Drottningholm is really pretty and much better than the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan.


You can take a tour of Drottningholm which Jake and I did in June when we visited Stockholm before we moved here but the tour was pretty boring so we skipped it and just walked around the beautiful grounds instead since it was such a nice day.
We walked by the building that looks like a circus tent and the Chinese Pavilion.
We had Thai food for lunch after visiting Drottningholm.  Thai food is really popular in Sweden because a lot of Swedes go to Thailand for vacation and they love the food so now there are lots of Thai places around the city.
After lunch we went downtown to do a little shopping and to show my parents what the big department store, Åhlens, looks like.  (Åhlens is similar to Von Maur or Nordstroms.)  
Jake met up with us and then we went to Södermalm to meet my friend Lisa and her son Gray for fika.  I wanted my parents to meet Lisa and for Lisa to meet my parents.  Since they both hear about each other I thought putting faces to names would be a good idea plus I was able to meet Lisa's mom and sister when they were here earlier this year.  Södermalm is the hippy part of Stockholm that we have nicknamed Lawrence (Kansas) because it just has a different vibe.

After fika we walked to get a better view of Stockholm from a raised street in Södermalm.

This is Gröna Lund which is an amusement park.


We stopped by City Hall on our way back to the apartment.



Before we called it a night we walked by the rocks close to our apartment.  We call them the lizard rocks because in the summer they are covered with people sunbathing and from the metro the people look like lizards soaking up the sun.  During the summer the rocks are full of people barbecuing and picnicking with friends.  We wanted to have a picnic with my parents on the rocks but we ran out of time and it was getting kind of chilly at night but they could at least see how beautiful it is.

 I love this picture because there is a power boat, sail boats - big and small and kayakers all enjoying the water.


These are the rocks by our apartment.

*I thought I would mention some of the things my parents brought us so that I would remember all the random stuff we've asked people to bring when they visit.  They brought us: allergy medicine, eye drops, Living Beyond Yourself bible study by Beth Moore, Italian seasoning (the ones they have here don't taste the same), butterscotch chips (I like to eat these by themselves or mixed with chocolate chips. Not healthy but SO good!), fruit snacks, shoe covers (vented bags that my mom made to put my indoor shoes in when I put them in my backpack), elastic with clips on each end to pull my sheets tight under the mattress, and sheets for our sleeping bags so we can use them if we stay at a hostel or if it is too warm for a sleeping bag.  She made the shoe bags, elastic with clips for my sheets and the sheets for our sleeping bags.  If you don't have someone in your life who can sew and make all of the random projects you come up with, you are missing out!  They also brought junior mints for me, beef jerky for Jake and some slippers to wear around the house but those were all surprises.  Thanks for bringing all of our goodies!

The next morning I took my parents to the airport bus stop and hugged them goodbye until we come home around Christmas.  We had such a great time with them in Stockholm and in Geneva and the rest of our trip in Switzerland.  Thanks for flying out to see us and for looking at all the everyday stuff that makes up our lives here!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Switzerland: Bern, Interlaken and Zurich

If you missed reading about our first few days in Geneva, Switzerland click on the link to read about our time there.

The next stop on our trip through Switzerland was Bern.  We stopped in Bern on our way to Interlaken.
A church on our way into town and the main street in Bern

 Our first stop in Bern was Albert Einstein's house.
We walked through the house and read all about Einstein and his family.  We watched a video about his life and Jake found a Garmin in one of the displays which was pretty neat.

After touring Einstein's house we stopped for some coffee and treats that we saved for lunch.  We walked up the main street to look at the clock tower.


We walked around to find a few things for lunch to have a picnic somewhere instead of eating at a restaurant.  
Before we stopped to eat lunch we looked at the bears.  We read that Bern was named after the first animal the founder saw which was a bear.  They had a really neat outdoor area for the bears.
Jake and Dad both had curry bratwursts while Mom and I had sandwiches.
We sat by the water for lunch and had a great view of the river.
After lunch we went back to the clock tower to take a tour and hear more about how the clock was made.

We got to see the clock gears and see how it runs on the hour and the quarter hour from inside the tower.  It was neat to watch the behind the scenes action of the clock tower.  Someone has to go in daily to manually pull the weights back up.
Bern from the clock tower
We walked around the city a little more stopping by a quilt store for my mom but it was closed.  There were several neat shops in Bern but since we were there on a Sunday they were all closed.  We were thankful that we were still able to see Einstein's house and the clock tower.

We walked by the cathedral on the way to the car.  It was pretty but it was covered with some scaffolding and there were some screens in front of the cathedral so the picture doesn't do it justice.  
Before driving to Interlaken for the night we drove up a hill to get a better view of Bern.  As we were driving up I thought I saw a sign for no cars but Jake had scoped the place out before so I thought I had just misread the sign.  Then we passed a few people who were walking down the hill and got lots of strange looks.  Once the road became narrow enough that only one car could fit I started to think maybe I hadn't misread the sign.  We were mostly to the top when we saw another sign, the same one I saw at the bottom of the hill, saying no cars, motorcycles or electric bikes.  Oops.  We decided to pull off somewhere and walk up the rest of the way.  We parked at a place that looked like it was a business but it was closed for the day.
The view from the top was great and of course the pictures don't fully capture it.  We could see the city of Bern below us and the Alps on the other side.

We walked back to the car and drove 45 minutes to Interlaken.  We decided to get dinner before checking in at the hotel.  Whenever we visit a new place we look at Trip Advisor to get ideas for places to eat.  One place in Interlaken that got good reviews was a Mexican restaurant and since there are zero Mexican restaurants in Stockholm I was determined to eat there at least one of our two dinners in Interlaken. 
After dinner Jake wanted some bubble tea and my dad and I had frozen yogurt.  So much for eating Swiss foods while in Switzerland but we still had another day :).

We stayed at Alpine Inn by Jungfrau which was actually in Wilderswil only about eight minutes from Interlaken.  I was really excited about this place because it looked like it had a great view of the Alps.

 Here is the view from our balcony our first morning in Interlaken.  It was beautiful even though it was cloudy.
Our room was the room all the way to the right on the top.

On Monday, August 25th we explored Trummelbach Falls as our first stop that morning.
Our view on the way to the falls.

 Trummelbach falls is where 10 glacier waterfalls fall inside a mountain that you can get access to with a tunnel lift.  The water comes from the glaciers of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
We took the lift up to the 7th chute and then took stairs up to the 10th chute before walking down.





It was so neat to see how the water had cut away at the mountain over time.  This would be a great erosion field trip :).

I thought this building at the bottom of Trummelbach Falls was pretty and the flowers were beautiful.

We drove to Grindelwald for lunch and we had a great view.


We sat outside which was a little chilly but it was so pretty we couldn't sit inside.

When we were in Interlaken the night before and this day in Grindelwald we noticed lots of people were paragliding.  Jake thought that sounded awesome and my dad was on board as well.  So the guys spent most of our time shopping in Grindelwald trying to figure out if they could go paragliding.  The whole experience is about one and half to two hours.  They take you up to the top of the mountain where you run and jump off the side with a trained paraglider and then you descend together for 15-20 minutes.  It looked awesome but I don't think I could do it.  We didn't realize it was such a big sport until we were there and unfortunately they guys weren't able to find any openings.  We really only had one day to do it and by the time they figured out they wanted to do it everything was booked.  They tried looking into booking it the next morning before we drove to Zurich but the weather was supposed to be so bad that all the companies had already cancelled the slots for the next day.
The forecast for our day in Grindelwald was cloudy in the morning but it was supposed to clear up in the afternoon which is why we did Trummelbach Falls in the morning since it didn't matter if there were clouds.  In hindsight we should have switched our activities for the day because the weather ended up not clearing up.  The other activity we had planned was to take a gondola up to the top of one of the mountains in the Alps.  It was pretty cloudy in the afternoon but we decided to go up anyway and I am so glad we did.  The view was incredible which made me think it would have been that much more amazing on a clear day.
It took about 30 minutes in the gondola from Grindelwald to Männlichen. Männlichen is about 7,700 feet high. When we got to the top we were greeted by a few cows that get to spend their days up there. It was neat to hear the cow bells while we were in Switzerland but I can't imagine having to wear that all the time. Plus the ringing would drive me nuts!

Jake got pretty close with this cow. You could say that Jake had the cow literally wrapped around his finger.

We decided to hike up to the top of Männlichen to get the best view we could before the clouds blocked more of the view.
 This was our hike up to the top.  The last part was really steep!

 My Dad and Me at the top of Männlichen.
 Had we been up there earlier in the day or on a clear day we would have been able to see the tops of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau which are the same three mountains whose melting glaciers formed Trummelbach Falls.
 Look at the cloud going over the top of the mountain.
 Such a cool shot even though it was cloudy, it was still beautiful.


Mom wasn't sure she could make it to the top but she did.  We were so proud of her!
We headed back to Interlaken for some shopping and dinner.
Couldn't agree more with this sign :).  Plus the boy in it is cute.
We split up for about an hour so my mom could see if the quilt store was open, it wasn't, but they saw some paragliders land in a park.  They said it looked so soft and easy which of course didn't help the guys feel even more bummed that it didn't work out.
We had dinner at Husi Bierhaus and the food was really good even though we were worried it was just typical bar food.  Mom and Dad had different kinds of schnitzel, Jake had chicken and I had macaroni with bacon and potatoes.
Our last stop in Switzerland was Zurich.  We flew out of Zurich on Tuesday, August 26th but thankfully we had some time during the day to explore the city before our flight.

The drive to Zurich would have been really pretty but unfortunately the forecast was correct and it was rainy and cloudy so we weren't able to see much.
The picture on the left was our first morning and the picture on the right was our last morning.  Wish we could have seen Interlaken on a clear day.  

On our way to Zurich we had to go up a mountain and we were thankful for our gps but at one point we were a little concerned about the path we were taking.  The picture of our gps looks like that because we climbed up the mountain in a tunnel and then on a road along the side of the mountain.  It was pretty crazy!  The hanging rock over the road was also a little unnerving.
It was cloudy and raining by we still had fun walking around Zurich.
We had lunch at a place called Tibits.  Jake found it and was excited to try it because it was a vegetarian place.  
I had a hard time finding food because I'm not a huge fan of cold salads and I felt like 60% of the food was cold.  Most of the warm food seemed spicy which I also don't really care for.  After we started eating Jake told us the place is actually vegan not just vegetarian.  I think he might have been the only one that really enjoyed it.  It was pretty expensive and you paid by the weight of your plate not just a set price.  Since I wasn't sure what I would like I took a little bit of as much as I could see that had potential but in the end I still had food on my plate.  The fruit and dessert bowl I got was empty, however, at the end of the meal.

After lunch we headed to a quilt store.  One of the running jokes on this trip was that every quilt store my mom tried to go to was either closed because it was a Monday or they were closed for the summer.  This quilt store was our last chance so we were all hoping it would be open so we could finally stop looking for quilt stores see a quilt store!
We walked around the city for a couple of hours before we had to go to the airport.  

 We climbed to the top of a cathedral tower, which seems like a must do now in every city, to get a great view.


 Apparently my dad shares the squirrel love just like me :).  I thought the funicular railway going over the road was neat and then Jake spotted this car on our way out of the parking garage.
The sunset from the plane was beautiful.

We had a great time in Switzerland with my parents.  I'm going to wrap up the posts about my parents visit with their last day in Stockholm and the questions and answers post about Switzerland.  Check back in a few days to read those posts.  Hope you enjoyed seeing pictures and hearing about our trip.