Day 10: Black Forest, Rhine Falls, Swiss Alps

We woke up at 6:30 and enjoyed a German breakfast at our hotel. By 7:30 we had all boarded the bus heading for the Black Forest.

When we arrived at a little part of the Black Forest, we went into a cuckoo-clock workshop and were instructed in how cuckoo-clocks were constructed. All the clocks were very pretty: intricately carved and painted with good mechanisms. However, they were also super expensive.


After enjoying the clocks, a bunch of us went for a hike in the Black Forest. The hike was beautiful; we followed a moderately sized stream and found a few waterfalls and a man-made partial dam. I couldn’t stop taking pictures.




We then left the Black Forest and drove toward Switzerland. We crossed the Swiss border without incident (they didn’t even check our passports to give us stamps) and rode toward the Rhine Falls, the largest (but not tallest) waterfall in Europe.


Following our visit to the falls, we arrived at the Grand Hotel Europe in Lucerne, Switzerland. The hotel was nice and included the first really good shower of the trip. Almost everyone got dressed nicely and headed out to our Swiss Folklore Dinner Party option.

At the Folklore Dinner, we enjoyed traditional Swiss music, dancing, and games before and after our meal. The meal was good and included some real veggies (why have they been missing everywhere else?), which made everyone happy. The games were a bit dangerous and a few people got hurt (but nothing is broken, as far as we can tell). Due to construction on the mountain road, we couldn’t stay in Illgau (the town on the mountain where the folklore dinner was located) past 10 PM. On the bus ride home, it turned into a bit of a party (but I fell asleep).

We arrived back at the hotel and fell asleep promptly.

Tomorrow: More time in Lucerne, journey to the small country of Liechtenstein, and end in Munich with a Bavarian dinner and some beer at the Hofbrauhaus.

Day 9: Cologne, Rhine River, Heidelberg

This morning, we woke up at 5:30. Another good Dutch breakfast was served at 6, and everyone was on the bus to Germany by 6:30.

I slept most of the bus ride until we arrived at a rest-stop in Germany about an hour outside Cologne. Again, we encountered pay toilets that gave a coupon in the store (€0.70 to use the toilet and get a €0.50 coupon). One short hour later and we were in Cologne.

The cathedral was pretty impressive; its two towers loomed over the city. Inside, mass was going on and we heard some beautiful organ music. After, we grabbed some McDonald’s, got cash at an ATM, and visited a souvenir shop.


We then took the bus to a small town on the Rhine called Boppard. We boarded a boat to see the various castles on the Rhine. There was a bar/restaurant on the boat, so I had some hefeweizen and tried a new food: goulash.


Following our boat adventure, we journeyed toward the Castle of Heidelberg. With its half-restored, half-ruined state, the castle was oddly peaceful. We only spent half an hour there, but it was enough time to get some good pictures.


Arriving at our hotel, the Holiday Inn, we were happy to discover that the rooms were more of the American style, albeit with twin beds rather than full/queen. However, I still haven’t found a shower in Europe that I like: London and Heidelberg were just too small, Paris was too weird, and Amsterdam was just oddly placed. Regardless, they all (eventually) worked for getting me clean.

Nine of us piled into a taxi and headed down to the main street of Heidelberg. Since Heidelberg is a University town with an additional population of an American military base, there are over 200 bars and restaurants. We ended up in an Irish Pub to watch the final of the EuroCup.


After our first round of drinks, we were surprised to see more people from our trip arrive. Alex (the tour liason from the Alumni Association) bought the second round of drinks and we continued to watch. When I had finished, I decided that I would try a scotch I’ve been wanting to try: Talisker 10. I liked it quite a bit and intend to buy a bottle soon.

Before getting ready to leave, everyone visited the restroom. While I was in there, I was approached by a man asking in broken English which team I supported. I tried to explain that I supported neither, but he didn’t understand. He guessed that I was an American soldier, but was surprised to discover that I was merely a tourist. He then decided that I should visit his home city in Poland.

I was able to escape and we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.

Tomorrow: Spend some time in Germany’s Black Forrest, leave for the neutral planet country of Switzerland, and enjoy a traditional Swiss Folklore Dinner Party.