A lot of catching up to do

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19/02/2010 by etiennefish

I’ve not been writing a lot lately. This is not due to lack of desire to. I am suddenly busy (but don’t be fooled, a social life has yet to find me). Between work, studying (french and other foolish things), running, trying to figure out what I’m doing next with my life, and attempting to memorise my lines for the play I’m in, time just seems to be slipping by. This is probably a good thing, but I mostly feel like I’m flopping uselessly around, being more scattered than driven. Also, with all the computer time during the day, my eyes launch massive protests, which sometimes verge on all out battles when it comes time to doing the writings at the computer in the evening. This my friends, is one more reason why I shouldn’t have a desk job.

Aside from all the time fillers, there have been some good weekend moments as of late as well. For instance, I was in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, for a rockstar reunion. It was fairly fabulous to have such amazing rockstars all in one place once again. It was unfortunate that it was such a short trip. We will have to be better organised in the future…

Last weekend, myself and two of my friends decided to hunt down a carnival festival in this fair country we live in. We were told by google that Lucerne had one of the best, so despite the fact that we knew most of the activities wouldn’t be going on on the days we would be there, we figured it was worth a visit nonetheless. It was a good trip, although not especially straightforward. At 1 am or later the night before leaving, we hadn’t yet decided what exactly we’d be doing. We had managed to secure some commune tickets for the trains (30 CHF will give you a day’s pass anywhere in the country, be it by boat, train, or bus), so we figured we’d take advantage and go further than originally planned. At about 5:30 the next morning we were on a train, bleary eyed and only partially awake, but at least we all made it. We still weren’t exactly sure about the plan, but we decided the first leg would be to get to Interlaken. After triumphantly arriving there, we realised there was really not much to do in the immediate area, and made the spur of the moment decision to head up to Jungfraujoch. This ‘slight deviation’ of the original plan involved upwards of a million and one train rides, and a lot of pretend German. We got to see a lot of little villages though, and even spent some time at the top of a mountain next to a giant teepee where skiers and snowboarders could get something hot to drink and a snack before heading back down the slopes. Yes, it was somewhat fabulous. We also took a train through approximately 10 km of tunnel inside of a mountain (um sort of crazy), and popped out on the UNESCO site that is Jungfrau. It was absolutely gorgeous. The day couldn’t have been nicer, although even despite the sunny clear skies, taking a photo outside was tempting fate in terms of windchill and temperature equally immediate frostbite. I had to keep running back inside to get feeling in my hands again so that I could take more photos. But relaly, the view was spectacular! There is nothing I could say or show that can capture the view from ‘the top of Europe.’ We wandered around for hours up there, enjoying the dizziness that comes with altitude sickness, and exploring ice palaces, and observatories. Unfortunately, there were a number of areas that were closed, probably due to the temperatures more than the season, but we only finished seeing what was open shortly before the last train was scheduled to descend back to more comfortable elevations.

The ride down was almost more spectacular than the ride up. The sun was beginning to nudge the horizon and it made the snowy vistas sparkle and gleam. After taking a million more trains, including a short stop in the passably cute town of Grindelwald, to purchase future fuel for our bellies, we finally arrived in Lucerne around 11pm. Slightly later than originally planned.

My friends had found a nice/cheap hotel and we found our ultra-modern accomodations quite easily, although not before I had the chance to wander around the train station and stare at the people of all ages in crazy costumes and masks. I’m not exactly sure what they were doing there (it was definitely aimless milling that we witnessed), but I enjoyed the creativity, and wished I’d not missed the earlier celebrations.

After dropping off our stuff, me and Erica (Zeke was unfortunately down for the count due to a killer headache) decided to walk back to town and stalk the carnival festivities. I asked the man at the front desk before leaving the hotel, where we should go. He gave a very vague response which mostly alluded to the fact that we should walk towards town, find people there. Yes, it was extremely helpful advice. Anyway, we did wander about town, and eventually we did find some people but it took some doing.

See, for some reason, people just seemed to be wearing costumes that were not necessarily well-suited for the frigid conditions, but yet were just milling around aimlessly. This included entire bands (as in carrying huge heavy musical instrusments). We tried to follow people, thinking they would lead us to wonderous sights. Alas, they were not all that helpful. Eventually, however, we did find the party we were meant to be at. It was in some massive, well-decorated place that may or may not have been some sort of posh hotel. Everyone was incredibly dressed, and we could see a band playing in the foyer. We desperately wanted to go and dance around, however, it was clear that there was a dress code (i.e. we were not wearing fancy dress. We did think about telling the doormen that we were dressed as snowboarders, but didn’t think it would actually fly), and that people may or may not actually have their names on a pre-determined list. Also important, was that neither of us speak German. So, after staring like creepers for a good long while at everyone, we decided to continue our wanderings. We found a giant boat (not on the lake) that had people lounging on its brightly lit deck and was serving booze out of its side. We also found a couple of smaller parties. I don’t know if it was the temperature outside, or what, but this carnival didn’t appear to be amazingly insane or carnival-esque in many ways. I did enjoy the costumes (but didnt’ understand what most of them were actually portraying), and the fact that there were people of all ages involved. But, to  be fair, both myself and Erica were exhausted after such a late night, early wake-up, and long day, so we soon headed back to the warmth of the hotel and the promise of sleep and dreams. It was not very rockstar of us, and I’m a bit ashamed that I missed out on the festivities, but it just means that I’ll have to live it up next year.

The next day, we talked ourselves out of running and explored Lucerne instead. I really liked the city. I was very picturesque and somehow more relaxed and friendly-seeming that Geneva. We found the sad (actually dying) lion, which was much more spectacular than I thought it would be, traversed some beautiful 13th century bridges (unfortuned decked out in Carnival paraphanelia so we couldn’t see the original artwork normally displayed), and took a hike in the woods above and beyond the city (where we should have gone running). It was absolutely charming with the snow lightly falling and all the town spires covered in snow. We also found one of the best playgrounds ever, and amused ourselves there for quite awhile. One of the highlights of my day, and one of the reasons that I would jump at the chance to live in Lucerne, was that Lucerne (unlike Geneva) has both delicious and affordable Thai food. Yes, I probably ate better Thai there than I have since moving away from Portland. I may go back there just for that.

Anyway, that’s enough talk for now. But yes, rest assured I’m working on figuring out how to write often enough that I can add in all my little stories and funny anecdotes about my life here.

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February 2010
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