Monday, August 5, 2013

The End

Sadly enough, today was my last day in Basel and in Europe- I am headed home on a plane tomorrow morning. On the bright side, I had a wonderful day to end this amazing trip. Kurt, Carolyn, and I woke up early to grab breakfast at a near by cafe. I had hot chocolate with a croissant. Yum! Carolyn and I then walked to her work (today was her first day back) and I helped her and her co-teacher begin setting up their classroom by label-making, sharpening pencils, moving furniture, etc. I had a really enjoyable time and I was so pleased to be able to see where Carolyn works! I was given lunch there which was super and right afterward, I walked home to begin packing, checking into my flight, and getting all ready to go. As soon as Carolyn and Kurt got home, we headed off for a swim in the Rhine! It was amazing! The current is strong enough to carry you down while you just float or tread water. I had so much fun. Getting out was a bit scary though... Afterward, we headed off to the best pizza in town. It's owned by Italians and boy was it delicious! We sat there for quite a long time and then headed to the river for a bit more fun where we met up with Carolyn and Kurt's friends afterward. Then we headed home and here I am! It was a lovely day.
I can't begin to explain how wonderful this trip has been- taking the long journey over here is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel I have grown in many ways and am so excited to see where life continues to take me. I am so looking forward to coming home- 48 days away is a very long time and I am ready for some down time in my wonderful home town. A big thanks to each of you who have read my ramblings this entire time- I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them; I would love to see each of you back home at some point in time. That's all I have for this adventure. Perhaps we will meet again during the next one. Take care!

(photo credit: Leah Kelley)
(photo credit: Leah Kelley)
I am fortunate enough to have made some incredible friends on this trip.

(photo credit: Leah Kelley)

These memories will last a lifetime.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Gift of Music

Today was another wonderful Sunday in Basel. During breakfast, Carolyn, Kurt, and I watched a summer rainstorm as it crashed down around us, complete with loud crashing thunder and huge bolts of lightening. It was incredible. We then took a walk to the park around the corner that used to be a cemetery- it was beautiful. Carolyn and I then headed across town to the botanical garden- this was incredible. It has everything you can imagine and more, including a house that basically holds a jungle (it was really hot in there!) We then walked down by the Rhine and ordered burgers and fries, enjoying the beautiful day. Afterward, we headed to a museum in town that is centered around an artist named Jean Tinguely, a man who took lots and lots of "junk" and turned it into beautiful moving machines. We spent about two hours here thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We then headed home where Carolyn gave me a bunch of her music- I am really excited to listen to it and share it with my friends. Music is one of the best gifts in the world. We then had dinner with Kurt and then biked out to the garden where I busied myself picking blackberries and raspberries. It was quite a busy day. I have loved the time I've spent here and am so glad to be sharing this incredible adventure with my sister. Until next time. Love to all.
The troll in the park! (Another boyfriend to add to the collection, obviously.)

A pretty sunflower tree in the botanical garden

Tiny little frogs outside a house in the garden!

I saved him. :)

Basel is beautiful.

One of Tinguely's works- this was moving, you just can't see that in the picture.

Another artist was also being featured in this museum- his show was called "Slow Motion." When you walked in this room, all this magnetic tape was on the ceiling. It was a strange thing to look at.

My favorite of Tinguely's pieces

Mmmm want some?!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two Days in the Alps

Hello again! I have safely returned to Basel after two days of an amazing adventure. Carolyn, Kurt, and I traveled through Switzerland, went swimming in a lake, climbed into the Alps, (complete with a steep ride up a mountain in a bus that honked loudly around every corner, your average sketchy bridge suspended above a glacier, a rope to help climb an especially steep part, and waterfalls to occasionally fall into) and we stayed in two separate huts. It was absolutely amazing to say the least; there is no way I can explain to all of you what it was like to be where I was- I am so thankful Carolyn and Kurt planned this out so well in order for us to enjoy such an amazing time together. Both huts were quite the experience, each containing other families (one much more filled than the other) and one even supplied breakfast, dinner, and really delicious tea. I can now say that I have hiked 8 and a 1/2 hours in the Alps and I came away sweaty, hot, exhausted, and so excited. It was absolutely incredible. I have included a few pictures but Carolyn and Kurt captured a lot more special moments on their camera that I will share with some of you at a later date. Until next time. Love to all.
In the city of Lucerne, we swam in their lake.

The "Post" bus that took us to the starting point of our hike

Taken from the bus

The first waterfall encounter on our hike...amazing

Our entire hike was like this- simply beautiful

A picture of my bunk in the second cabin

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fireworks and a Barbecue

Hello! Today, August 1st, is Swiss National Day- this means that last night was a huge party in Basel which meant that we had so much fun with friends, food, and fireworks. Carolyn and I began the day by walking around the town some more, enjoying a few shops (I bought a couple things!), grocery shopping, getting an amazing lunch in a little square in town, and buying fireworks! We then came home, got all ready to go, and headed out to the garden for a barbecue- a ton of Carolyn and Kurt's friends showed up and I had a wonderful time. There was more than enough food and I definitely stuffed myself. We, along with many others in their gardens, set off our fireworks and enjoyed each other's company. Around 11, we set off for the river to watch the real fireworks show. As we biked there, I looked up as much as I could- they really do an amazing job on their fireworks here; I was in awe. Unfortunately, JUST as we pulled up to the river and I scooted my bike toward the edge and tried to move so a tree wasn't in my way, the last firework went off. We were all pretty bummed but the fact that we had just raced down there all together (about 8 of us on bicycles- I would call that a sweet bicycle gang) was super exciting so we got over it. A few of us from the group then went out! There had been a dance party planned for this night, put on by D.J. Koze, so Carolyn, Kurt, and I bought our tickets right before the BBQ. We all biked there- it was about a 20 minute ride- got off, and went inside to enjoy the electronic beats of a European Discotheque. For me personally, the music was a little too trance-like so I had a hard time dancing but it was super fun to watch the people inside enjoy themselves- it got really really packed. We ended up getting home around 3:00 in the morning, so I am pretty exhausted as I write this at 9:30 the next morning. As I sit here, the church bells of Basel are all singing away to celebrate the day, I'm guessing. It is really neat. Today, the three of us will be traveling to Lucerne, Switzerland to hike in the Alps!!! Of course there is a lot planned around that, but we will be gone until late Saturday afternoon which means, unfortunately for you, I won't be back on here rambling until then. This trip continues to amaze me and I can't wait for these next three days- I, Janna Yates, will be hiking in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, stopping in two separate cabins to sleep the night away in the fresh mountain air. Oh! Night before last, the salsa dancing was so much fun- I danced with quite a few guys who were very understanding of my extremely basic knowledge of the dance. I had a great time and Carolyn and I wondered home around 12:30 am. Until I return! Love to all.
On our way to salsa!

The best ice cream in Basel (Julia and Marc- this one is a winner)

The great place we ate lunch

An amazing almond cookie that is well-known here. It is just so tasty.

A great little side street

There are fountains all over this city that you can drink from! Carolyn and I stop almost every time we see one.

A little flashback to Prague! We were playing "Never Have I Ever..." (Photo credit.- Benedicte Masson)

The group in Prague <3 (Photo credit.- Benedicte Masson)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

3 Countries in 1 day

Hello! I wish my ramblings could do justice to the amazing time I am having right now- they simply can't but as always, I shall do my best to share my amazing day with all of you. After an early start, (complete with a breakfast smoothie and some delicious bread) Carolyn and I began our day- on bicycles! After riding for quite sometime, we arrived at the border of Switzerland and France. Yes. Today I biked around France. Ahhh. Life is so incredible. Once we took the necessary cheesy photo, I followed Carolyn to her garden- it was absolutely amazing! They have everything you can imagine and more- we ate our fill of raspberries, blackberries, random flowers, seeds, and even weeds- everything was so yummy. After spending quite a bit of time here and thoroughly enjoying ourselves, we hopped back on our bikes and pedaled to Saint Louis, a border city in France. I honestly couldn't believe I was in France the entire bike ride so I simply stared open-mouthed at everything (allowing for a nice bug opening...yuck). Here, we stopped for a yummy little lunch consisting of a baguette straight from a bakery in France, Swiss cheese, olives, and dried mango. We soon ventured into a park that was filled with water buffalo and all kinds of birds and fish (it was a preserved marsh). After a while, we headed out of the city and crossed a bridge and, before I knew it, I was in Germany. Yes. I went to Germany today. Granted, I was there for about two minutes as I passed through a popular shopping center but it totally counts. We then began biking back toward Basel, stopping for a little ice cream/iced tea treat along the way. About 8 hours later, here I am. It has been such an incredible day. And more is still to come! We will be making home-made pizza tonight, followed up by some salsa dancing later in the evening. Just believe me when I say that I have a constant smile plastered to my (very exhausted) face. Love to all, until next time.
There's France!

We arrived at the garden!

mmm want some?!

We had to get the ridiculous nail polish in the photo. Duh.

More garden!

Thanks to my amazing big sister, this awesomeness happened.

We ate these seeds! They tasted a bit like perfume...they were so strange and yummy.

Echinacea! with its bee friend

A stop for lunch in a little French park

The amazing marsh!

Germany is on the left, Switzerland is behind me, and France is on the right.

Enjoying the sun on the Rhine

Our refreshing iced tea- needed after a day of biking!

Monday, July 29, 2013

An Amazing (and rainy) Day

Day two in Basel has been absolutely amazing- I love this city, I love being with Carolyn and Kurt, and I continue to love being abroad. Since Kurt went to work early this morning, Carolyn and I spent the day together- we lounged around a bit (which was amazing and so needed) doing some laundry, making breakfast and lunch, and a few other things around the house. We then went out and enjoyed each other's company at an amazing cafe right down the street. I ordered hot chocolate and we shared an amazing pastry that is well-known in Switzerland. We then continued our wonderful day by hopping on a train to Rheinfelden to enjoy their AMAZING spa. I cannot begin to explain how immense and fantastic this place was. I got into hot pools with bubbles, cool pools without bubbles, ice baths, really hot hot tubs, wet and dry saunas, and a pool so filled with salt that I floated with no effort at all- there was even music in the water! I fell in love with this place. Seriously. I wish you could all experience it for yourself. 3 amazing hours later, Carolyn and I headed back to Basel and grabbed falafel-  this is basically the burrito of Switzerland. Mmm was it good. We then met up with Kurt and a few friends and enjoyed a nice night out. Today was so wonderful- Carolyn and Kurt have been perfect hosts so far and simply spending time with my family in Europe is surreal. I am a happy little lady. I have sort of stopped taking as many pictures because I am enjoying everything so much in the moment that I end up forgetting to. Here are a few to share with you from today, though. Until next time, friends.
After it rained all day, there was a double rainbow in the sky!

mmm my tasty falafel

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Traveling Adventures and The Beauty of Basel

Hello from Basel! As I expected, today and yesterday have been FILLED with stories. I'll keep it short on here, but I have arrived safely in Basel after a 17 hour train ride that was supposed to be 13- that was interesting to say the least. I'll tell that story in a moment. The last hours I spent in Prague were filled with watching the sun rise from the roof with the amazing friends I have made this summer, followed by a tearful goodbye to Julia and a few others, making lunch with Marc and some other boys who were left, walking to a park in 92 degree heat, and leaving a beautiful city that has been my home for the past month. Getting to the train station was easy, finding where the heck to go was difficult. Once I did, though, I hopped on board the train that would take me to my sister and Kurt! I boarded at about 6:00 PM and got of at 11:15 AM. Check my math on that one, friends. It was long, occasionally extremely hot, but overall not bad! I made a few friends and I slept through the incident that apparently caused us to be four hours late- removing a fallen tree from the tracks. I only learned that was what had happened when I arrived in Basel. Crazy! Once in Basel, though, everything went smoothly. I found Kurt and Carolyn quickly and we headed to their apartment- it is wonderful! I am so pleased that I get to spend the next week and a half here. Kurt made us a delicious lunch that we enjoyed on their balcony that overlooks the city- you can even see mountains in Germany from it! Carolyn and I then took a nice walk around the city and she was able to show me quite a bit in a short amount of time. When we returned, Kurt made us a delicious avocado spaghetti for dinner (he is quite the man!) and we enjoyed more of each others' company. We then headed of to meet one off Carolyn's friends from school at a local bar by the river, and from there we went to see a movie that was being shown outside on a huge screen! The weather here (just today!) had been threatening to storm all day- and it let loose during the movie! The movie company provided some great orange ponchos that got us through. I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had- and the movie was quite good (and in English.) Overall, these last two days have been beyond memorable; I have had some tough times and I have had some absolutely amazing times. This adventure has been amazing, enlightening, and just so incredible- I believe it will only get better these next 9 days. Love to all, until next time.
The last sunrise in Prague

A beautiful day at a park in Prague

A little glimpse of my sleeping car on the train. Tight quarters...

I closed my eyes at some point and next thing I knew, I was in Dresden. Snapped a picture in my sleepy state of mind.

The Rhine River in Basel!

This city is so beautiful. I can't wait to see more of it.