Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Friday, August 27, 1999 5:38 AM
Subject: August 20-23...Swityerland!

Zes...Swityerland!
Note...the y and z buttons are switched in this countrz...kinda creates a cultural anomalz in mz tzping...I think it is cool...so za`ll will have to deal with it...

August 20, 1999
Executive summarz...as suggested bz one or two of mz friends...Left Riomaggiore at 7am...connected in La Speyia...connected in Genova...connected in Milan...connected in Brig, Swityerland...connected in
Speiy, Swityerland...arrived Interlaken, Swityerland...checked into the Funnz Farm Zouth Hostel...slept.

Now...for those of zou wanting a little more flesh to the storz...here it is...on the train from Milan to Brig I met and talked with a lovelz ladz, Christiana (I think), who worked for Glaxo Wellcome...we talked...I told her I was travelling for a zear...she said she wants to do it and is somewhat burnt out with her job...I, being a VERZ POOR role model for a good Christian Work Ethic at this point, encouraged her to chuck it all and to travel...what did za`ll expect??? Anzwaz...she didn`t exactlz call her boss on her cell phone and tell him to piss off...but she did consider what I
said.

We then both connected to another train in Brig...and met an exceptional girl...Sara from Colorado...among other places...she is truly a world traveller...and is going to be studying in Verona to get certified to teach English as a 2nd language...this is basically to finance and fuel her wanderlust...I asked where she was going to teach...her reply was a nonchalant "Either in Italy or Asia...wherever..." ...cool, eh???!! Ahhhhh...I want to be that footloose and fancy free...but with a plan like her...guess I better get my act together...I must visit her in Verona and see how it is going later in my travels...

Anyway, I left these two lovely ladies as I connected to another train to Interlaken! This is supposed to be the adrenaline capital of Europe...the hallmark of Interlaken is the Canyoning but you can also go skydiving, paragliding, horsebackriding, hiking, bungee jumping...etc...the only shadow on all of these festivities is the unfortunate incident about a month ago in Interlaken where 19 people were killed in a freak flash-flood while Canyoning...the poor souls were Australians and Kiwis on a fun Contiki
tour...it is a somber reminder that while we are out enjoying some of the best days of our lives that reality can strike us whereever and whenever...but not a person that I´ve met would change what we are
doing...while it is sad that those folks lost their lives while Canyoning...they were out there pushing themselves to do more and experience the world...and in my analysis of the world...If I have to go...that would be a far sight better than getting hit by a bus in the middle of the street while walking to work...

Now, that being said...I did not go Canyoning...not out of fear...but out of economics and return on investment (pretty heady stuff, eh?). I was in Queenstown, New Zealand in March...which I reckon is the adrenaline capital of the WORLD! My kiwi friend, Chris ("Chrus" if you are a kiwi), and I did
jetboating, bungee jumping, fly by wire...etc...I´ve already done my silly adrenaline stuff for a while...but I also was just stunned by the scenery in Interlaken...and didn´t need to go looking for a rush...I could just look around me...the Alps are spectacular and the scenery was amazing. I just wanted to soak it in...that was going to be enough for me.

Upon arriving in Interlaken one must decide where to stay...basically the oldline big hostel is Balmers Herberage...a huge hostel that has been in business for 50 years...or Funny Farm which has been around for 2 years...but is getting great word of mouth in Europe by all the backpackers...I decided to go Funny Farm for 2 days...and Balmers for 1 day...wanted to experience both sides of the fence...and I am glad I did!

Funny Farm is, for lack of a better term, the hippie hangout of Interlaken. It is very casual, comfortable...whatever you want to do is OK and it is almost like a big commune house...I met several folks there...including a girl, Kim, who was totally planning on the Tomatina as well...and was trying
to talk folks into going.

That night, I saw the most amazing sunset over the Alps...it was slightly hazy and overcast...but the sun cut under the clouds and between the Alps and into the Interlaken valley...it was stunning. I then was walking back to the hostel when I heard sounds like wind chimes...they were actually a bunch of cows with bells on...sniff, sniff...I miss our cows on our ranch...so I walked over to the fence and petted the cows...they were milk cows and just about as friendly as you can imagine...sniff, sniff...moo...it
was quite the picturesque scene with the cows grazing in the evening dusk with cowbells ringing...

August 21, 1999
Slept in until 10ish...then got up...and rented a bike for half a day. I wanted to be somewhat mobile, get some excercise, and see the countryside...I biked all around, including the airport where they were
holding the World Human Power Exposition and Championships...this is basically a festival of Human Power...bikes, boats, even a human powered glider/aircraft...good fun...there were more wierd bikes than I have ever seen...cool stuff...then biked into the mountains...not much else to say...very scenic.

Had dinner at Balmer´s...met tons of way cool people...partied at Balmer´s that night...while Funny Farm is the Hippy hangout, Balmers is universally classified as a huge Frat Party...both can be fun...but are totally different scenes...ended up dancing quite late...crashed back at the Funny Farm.

August 22, 1999
Woke at funny farm...packed and left...went to Balmer´s...a 1 block walk...Balmer´s is considerably LESS laid back than the Funny Farm...they wake everyone up with music from 0730 to 0900...then you are locked out of the rooms at 0900 thru 1630...hmmmmm...kinda strict don´t you think? Anyway...they don´t check anyone in until 1700...go figure...so I left my bags and went with another guy to rent bikes again...It is bad, but I don´t even know this dude´s name...we hung out all day...great guy...but c´est la vie...that is the way it goes when you travel...it can all be a bluuuuuuurrrrr...

We biked all the way to Lauterbrunnen (sp?) and to where they had the bungee areas...quite the bike ride...about 70km...but it was fun...they have waaaaaay cool waterfalls in this area coming off the mountains...very scenic...hard to take a bad picture in Switzerland...the place is rotten with scenery...

And...to fully experience the cultural experience that is Switzerland...I had to buy a Swiss Army Knife...with my name engraved on it (free with purchase...this appealed to the Scotsman in me...thrifty, eh!)...so now with a knife with something like 85 useless features I am ready to magnify the
sunlight into fire if necessary...or I can punch holes in canvass if the NEED arises...uh huh...

Again...went back to Balmers...partied some...turned in early..had to leave the next day...

August 23, 1999
Woke...packed...headed out with another guy to Bern...he was going to Munich...I was going to Barcelona (then onto Valencia)...one benefit of the Eurail pass is the free use of the Lake Ferry Service in the Interlaken area...so instead of taking the train out of Interlaken, we took the ferry which took us to Speitz to connect to a train...it was a brilliant boat ride...and was quite the welcome diversion.

We hit the train and got to Bern with about 4 hours to kill...Bern is quite a cool little town. Was named by some long ago dead guy (a baron or something...whatever) who killed a bear on that spot...he said...OK...I killed a bear here...so let´s build a city and call it Bern (bear in German, I think...hmmmm)...anyway...they have been somewhat more kind to bears since then...just holding them captive in bear bits for the past 500 years...no kidding...they have bear pits that date back as far as the 1500s...Napoleon invaded the area at some point...and stole the bears at that time...go figure...guess he couldn´t bear to leave them...

There is also a big clock tower...which has moving parts...quite the spectacular contraption...guess ya´ll know the Swiss are really into clocks...anyway...on the turn of the hour it does some movement...but really it was quite underwhelming...but it was a free show...and I got my money´s worth out of it...

My friend changed his mind in mid stride...and decided to go to Prague instead of Munich...cool, eh??? Why not! Anyway, I headed for my train...and caught up with Kim from the Funny Farm...and 8 other people she had talked into going to the TOMATINA!!!! We were going to have a rocking good time! We all boarded the train for Geneva, Port Bou, Barcelona...yeeeeeha! I was happy...Spain tomorrow...Tomatina...and a crew of 9 people to party with...not bad...