Day 8 – Amsterdaam

Today’s drive was another 5 hour drive from Paris to Amsterdam. Today, we hit the 1200 mile mark to break in the engine – Logan was so happy, he revved his engine a little. By the time we got into Amsterdam, it was already 4:30 pm.

We went downtown and saw a lot of nude bars and coffee shops. Our two main stops to checkout that Amsterdam was known for were the redlight district and Anne Frank’s house. We went to Anne Frank’s house but only found it was already closed.

At first we couldn’t find the redlight district, but we later saw a couple of guys go down an ally. I thought it was weird that they would just go down random allies. Logan looked at me and said “I saw red lights.” I didn’t understand what that meant. Logan motioned to go down the alley and so I followed.

Sure enough, it was an ally with red lights illuminating a glass display case of women in lingerie. I was too embarrassed to look anywhere except ahead of me. It was too late to turn back. I looked around at the ally and noticed that everyone in the ally were males. I thought to myself – what dirty men. I wondered how many of those men there were curious and how many were actually looking to hire one of them tonight.

Amsterdam – you were quite an experience.

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Day 7 – Paris

After a long night, Logan and I took it easy and slept in until 10 am. We headed towards the metro with map in hand to go towards the Eiffel tower for lunch. We waited around for 20 minutes for the RER to take the C line to Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower exit), only to find that the train we were waiting for arrived on another platform. After asking around, we got on the right train and headed to the square.

Stopping at a wine shop and a baguetteria, we picked up two bottles of wine, two sandwiches, a baguette, and two jamon and cheese pastries and headed to Parc du Champ de Mars, a park next to the Eiffel Tower. It was a perfect day for a picnic. The view was amazing and the lunch, scrumptious.

After a delightful lunch, we walked over to Notre Dame, picked up a phone, and had some cappuccinos. We wanted to grab dinner at Leperouse, but unfortunately you need at least a day’s advance in reservations. We went back to the hotel, grabbed some dinner at a restaurant nearby, and called it an early night to prepare for our 5 hour drive to Amsterdam.

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In Toronto, on way home

Janis and I are in Toronto, which is our connection flight back home. We’ll be back around 8pm, Pacific time. I hope everyone is looking forward to the flurry of posts next week while we recover from our vacation!

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Blog posts on hold, for now

Janis and I are still doing well – we are in Cork, Ireland tonight. We have a few blog posts queued, but forgot to add pictures to them, so we are holding off on posting those.

Also, the device we took with us to Ireland doesn’t have working internet, so we can’t easily post new blog posts (this quick update is from my phone). This means that the blog is on hold until we get back to Munich, which is Friday.

Catch all of you then!

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A Special Proposal Surprise

Something you may have read in the proposal stories, is that we had a photographer come out and take some pictures. I had planned this a couple weeks in advance, on sort of a spur-of-the-moment thing. We had a member of Sophie’s team, Catherine, from Better Paris Photos come out and take some pictures. One thing that I had a special request for, is that they would take candid photos of us before and during the proposal. See below for the results! (Note, Janis did not know that we had a camera person following us, and I didn’t know where the camera person was until after I proposed).

If you’re interested in the photos, you can see & purchase them at:
http://bit.ly/VdeXxU

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He Liked It, So He Put a Ring On It

Logan’s Story

I had been planning the proposal for almost a year, now. Janis had wanted to go on some type of oversea travel, and I was shopping around for a new car. I was very interested in a German car, and every German manufacturer does a European delivery option where you can pick up the car in Germany, and you purchase the car at a discount. This was a perfect match for us – it saved me money on a new car and it allowed Janis and I to begin to travel the world. Shortly after Janis and I had decided we were going to do a European vacation, I knew that Paris would be a perfect city for the proposal. Who wouldn’t love to be proposed to in Paris? I wanted to get Janis’ dad’s approval before proposing. It was after all the holidays and I still hadn’t asked her dad. I wasn’t sure when I would get the opportunity, until it dawned on me – we would be going back to Chicago for Scott’s wedding. While in Chicago, I asked and was granted Mr. Lee’s permission to marry Janis.

Purchasing a ring is one of the most daunting tasks in proposing. There are so many types and styles for both the diamond and the ring, that I wasn’t sure what Janis would love. With all these options, I asked Janis to come out with me to shop for the ring. Before shopping, she thought she’d love a very simple style – either a solitaire or a three-stone ring. After shopping around for a bit – she really loved the halo design that Landon, my brother, bought his fiancée, Kaley. She also really liked the double-halo, which is two sets of diamonds around the center stone. We looked in several stores for either halo or double halo designs and found one at Shane Company (ShaneCo) that she really enjoyed.

By now, I had the location, and father’s permission, and I knew what ring she wanted, so I just needed to buy the diamond and mount it in the ring. I did a lot of research for the diamond that I was looking for. One site in particular (the truth about diamonds), was very helpful in going beyond the dictionary-like definitions of the 4 C’s (cut, carat, color, clarity) and giving a ton of great in-depth information about diamonds. I looked in the local jewelry stores for diamond prices, and they were quite high as opposed to online diamond prices. Scott also purchased his diamond online, and the online retailers had a money-back guarantee, so I decided to purchase online. I originally purchased a diamond from James Allen after more than 6 hours of searching for just the right deal. It was a great diamond that I was really excited about. The purchase process was smooth – and it arrived in time. Now I just needed to ensure I could keep it hidden for a month before our trip!

About two weeks before the trip, I went back to ShaneCo to purchase the ring and have the diamond mounted. While inspecting the diamond, they noticed a cavity in the corner of the diamond (see picture below, from the GIA certificate). They mentioned that this cavity puts the diamond in great risk of being damaged during the mounting process (and during normal use, after mounted). They said that they would not feel comfortable mounting this diamond. So, I had two options – purchase another diamond from James Allen (and worry about it getting delivered and mounted in time for the trip), or purchase a diamond locally from a store. They showed me a comparable diamond (same cut/clarity/color/carat as the one I had purchased), but the price was about 20% higher than I had paid online. After the salesperson talked with the manager, I was able to get a very deep discount on the diamond, which made the purchase price the same as what I paid online. I was able to get the new diamond mounted before our trip. Everyone from ShaneCo were great to work with, and super helpful. Also, the return process of James Allen was a breeze. In fact, everything about purchasing a diamond from James Allen was a breeze, except that I didn’t realize the impacts of the cavity in the corner of the diamond when I purchased it. I most likely will try and purchase more things from James Allen in the future, as they have really great pricing.

When attempting to decide where to propose in a city that I’m unfamiliar with, I looked online to see if I could get any good hints. While looking online, I found other people had gotten professional photos taking just after the proposal. I thought this was a fantastic idea, so I looked online for a photographer. I found one at Better Paris Photos. When talking with them about taking photos, they gave me a few great recommendations – I wanted a somewhat secluded area without a lot of people, but I also wanted a memorable location. I thought a bridge would be a great location, and Notre Dame is right by a couple of such bridges, and is a very historic site. I looked for restaurants online that were near Notre Dame, and landed on Chez Julian – a very old, very neat little restaurant. I booked a reservation for the day that we would arrive at 7:30PM, ensuring that we’d have enough time to get situated in our hotel before dinner. I let the photographer know where we’d be eating dinner and she knew about where we were I was going to propose.

When planning what clothes to pack for Paris, we had planned a few nice outfits for dinner. I packed one of my favorite purple shirts, and Janis packed her purple dress. While in Zurich, we planned what we were going to wear for the next few days to minimize how much luggage we hauled, and I told Janis we should have a date night in Paris – so she should pack her dress as I was going to pack my nice shirt. Every day of the trip, I was worried about keeping the ring hidden and secured. I initially packed it in my carry-on baggage, then smoothly moved it to my jacket after security.

We arrived in Paris on 10/1, shortly after noon. After searching for either parking or the hotel for 30 minutes, we finally found parking, although it wasn’t close to the hotel. We then had to walk about a mile to find our hotel. We checked in and walked back to pick up the car and brought it to the hotel. Just after checking in, we were both hungry for lunch. It was a nice day, so I wasn’t going to need my jacket, so I moved the ring from my jacket to my backpack before heading out. We ended up grabbing lunch at a small cafe near the hotel. The lunch was very good – I had a beef dish and Janis had a chicken dish. We left the cafe and went back to the hotel to get ready for the night. I knew it was going to be a late night, so I wanted to take a nap to be ready. Just as I put my head down to rest, I realized that I left my backpack at the cafe WITH THE RING IN THE BACKPACK! I panicked – there was one thing on this trip that I didn’t want to lose – that ring. I would have been less upset had I lost the car, my passport, or my wallet. I ran out of the room and to the cafe, and luckily, the waiter had the backpack for me – I quickly threw my hand in the pack and luckily, the ring was still there. Whew – what a close call. I walked back to the hotel, backpack in hand, and took a nap for about an hour, relieved that the ring was safe.

Janis woke me up, and I got ready to go out. We left our hotel, and began walking around a bit of Paris, as we still had about 3 hours before dinner. With about an hour before dinner, we were getting close to the places that I had planned on walking by and proposing by. Janis asked if I wanted to quickly check out Notre Dame before dinner, since we had about an hour to go. I didn’t want to walk to Notre Dame, cause that’s where I was planning to propose after dinner, so I slyly suggested we save Notre Dame for after dinner – we wanted more than 1 hour to check it out.

We arrived at the restaurant and informed them that I had a reservation, but they couldn’t find it. They also mentioned that there were 2 Chez Juliens in the city. They called up the other one, but that location didn’t have a reservation for me, either. I was confused and nervous, thinking that all of my planning was about to be unraveled. All of the information about the reservation and restaurant was on my phone, which I left at the hotel. I wasn’t sure that this was the right spot, or if we were supposed to be at the other location. I was also worried that photographer would show up at the wrong Chez Julian, and we’d miss out on the photos. The restaurant mentioned that they had outdoor seating available, if we wanted to take advantage of it. I thought that we had a 50% chance to have the right location, and without photos, it’d still be a memorable night. We decided to take the outdoor seating. Just after being seated, I told Janis that I was going to talk with the hostess again. I got up and went inside, and tried to explain my situation – I had a photographer that was going to take some pictures of the restaurant, but she might be showing up to the wrong Chez Julian. There was a slight language barrier between me and them, and I’m not sure my nervous super-fast talking helped. They didn’t understand what I was saying at first, which only exhaborbated the problems. Eventually, I gave up, hoping that I wouldn’t be wasting the photographer’s time.

Until dinner, I wasn’t very nervous about proposing – I was only nervous about not losing the ring (or having it stolen). I think it was the mixup that kicked the nerves into high gear, because it was during dinner, that my nerves began to kick in. The only thing that would calm them down, even a little, was just simply looking into Janis’ eyes. Every time I would look at Janis it made me smile, knowing that she was going to be my fiancé shortly. All through dinner, I was practicing what I was going to say, and how I was going to pull the ring out. Because of all of this on my mind – I couldn’t eat all of my food, and Janis noticed, asking if I was feeling OK. I said that I was, and that it was the two espressos that I had just before dinner that made me not so hungry. During dinner, I noticed that someone who looked like a photographer showed up, wearing the same outfit that was described in an e-mail I read just before dinner. This calmed down my nerves a little, knowing that the photographer showed up.

We paid our tab and exited the restaurant, on our way to Notre Dame. As we were walking on our way, I was scouting for a good place to propose, a place that wouldn’t be crowded. My nerves were super high. Janis began taking pictures of the river as we crossed one of the busy bridges. We took a turn, headed towards another bridge which would take us right next to Notre Dame, when I saw a really great area. It was just in front of Notre Dame, along the river with nobody around. Janis took a few quick pictures of Notre Dame, and right then and there. Janis was about to move on and I told her to wait a moment. I had the speech ready to go, and now I just needed to grab the ring. I wanted to smoothly grab the ring from my jacket, but honestly, I fumbled around for a minute, trying to find the pocket I put it in. For a moment, I thought I had lost it, which made my nerves jump higher than they were. When I finally found the ring, I got on one knee, with my hands shaking, and the only thing that was in my mind was “Will you marry me”? But it wasn’t a very smoothly-asked question, it was a nervous studdering that was more like “Wi ill ill you ooo ooo Maa aarr reeeee mee eeee eeee?”. Janis had the biggest smile on her face as she said YES! I got up, relieved. I hugged and kissed her, knowing that the hardest part of the proposal and vacation was over. After the initial shock passed from Janis, she pointed to the ground and said “I want you to kneel as you put the ring on my finger” – whoops. I guess I was too relieved to have remembered to put the ring on her finger. I kneeled back on the ground and put it on her, then stood back up and hugged and kissed her again. After a few moments, I told her that we had a photographer, ready to take pictures of us around Paris.

The rest of the night we spent taking photos, and really letting the moment set in. We got back to our hotel at about midnight, and called our parents to let them know what had happened. We snapped a few more photos of Janis with the ring, sent an e-mail to our family letting them know what happened, and called it a night.

Janis’ Story

In the past year and a half, we have been talking more about getting engaged and our future together. Logan got me a pair of earrings for Valentine’s Day. We went to Shane Company to switch the backing for white gold. When we walked into the store, they asked us if we were engagement ring shopping. We hadn’t really discussed it and I wasn’t sure whether or not it would be awkward ring shopping. I didn’t know if he had already bought one, was thinking about buying one, or if it was even on his mind.

After we dropped off the earrings, I looked at him and he asked “Do you want to go ring shopping?” I said “Sure, why not?” I thought, we might as well, while we were here. I was excited. There were so many sparkly gems in the display cases the glittered in the light. I felt like a child in a candy store. There were so many to choose from. The saleslady asked me so many questions – what cut, what style, what color diamond, what setting… I had absolutely no idea.

Until that day, I always liked the three stone engagement rings. Other than that, I wasn’t sure. After about an hour or so looking at different styles of glittering beauty, I narrowed it down to a double halo. I was so excited, I said we should go ring shopping at the mall while we were there. We made an afternoon of it and found three types of rings I liked: a flower design that had petals and the diamond as the center piece, a three stone halo design, and the double halo design.

After that, I wondered when he would propose and how he would do it. I told him I wanted him to get an official approval from my father for my hand in marriage. I suspected that he would do that while we were in Chicago for Memorial Day weekend for our friend Scott’s wedding. I also suspected that he would propose then, but he didn’t.

Sometime in July, while we were planning the Europe trip, a few questions ran through my mind. I wondered when he would propose, whether or not he had a ring, how he would propose, etc… I mentioned to Logan I had lots of questions running through my mind but I didn’t want to ask because I didn’t want to know the answer. Logan wanted me to ask so I asked. He just smiled and said he wouldn’t answer.

He proceeded to ask me, “Would you be upset or disappointed if you expected me to propose but I didn’t?” I told him that I thought he would propose back in May, but I wasn’t upset. The answer to his question was no – I wouldn’t be upset.

As we were planning the Europe trip, I thought that he would propose in Europe. It was a perfect time to propose, like the city of love, but I also remembered his question about being disappointed if he didn’t propose. I didn’t even know if he had bought a ring. He also mentioned that we should go back to El Gaucho, a fancy steakhouse back in Seattle, because the service was excellent and food was delicious. I suspected if he didn’t propose in Europe, he would propose back in Seattle when we went out to a fancy restaurant.

As we were packing for Europe, he saw my purple dress that I just bought in Chicago. He was really excited I had a purple dress because he had a purple shirt and a purple tie to match. Then he mentioned that we could wear them to a restaurant he made a reservation in Paris. When he mentioned that he made a reservation in Paris, I suspected that he made a reservation at a fancy place to propose.

My suspicions were confirmed the day of the proposal. After we (finally) found the hotel, we both showered and got ready to go out. As he was dressing up, he asked me to run a couple errands and I figured he wanted to have some time alone to prepare his thoughts and organize things, like where to put the ring.

When I came back from grabbing his pants from the car with his pants and coat, I found the contents from his luggage bag all over the bed. It looked like he was searching for something: something too small to see without emptying the contents of his carry-on. He was also very excited to see that I brought up his coat and was very insistent on bringing the coat.

We headed out and were walking around Paris. Every five minutes or so he would check his left and right jacket pocket and have his jacket on the arm opposite of the one I was holding. One could think that he was be cautious, but today he was being extra cautious. I assumed there was a box waiting in one of the pockets for me.

All day, especially at dinner, he looked at me like he was rehearsing something in his head. I imagined he was trying to figure out or rehearse what he would say when he proposed. During dinner he was very quiet and only eating half his meal. He looked nervous. I asked him if he was feeling alright and he blamed his appetite on the two coffees we had that day. I held his nerves responsible.

After dinner we walked towards Notre Dame. As we crossed the bridge, he put his arm around me – something we usually don’t do while we walk. We usually just hold hands. Like a tourist, I just wanted to take pictures. But Logan seemed like he didn’t want to stop and wanted to get to a specific place at a specific time.

We got to a balcony and he held me in his arms, just looking at me. He positioned me so I was square with him, fumbled around his jacket pockets, looking for something. He finally found what he was looking for, got down on his right knee, opened the gray box, and asked with a quivering voice, “Janis, will you marry me?” He was so nervous. I waited to see if he was going to say anything else, but it was a simple question. I said yes and he jumped to his feet and gave me a hug. I looked to my left to see a stranger taking a photo. I thought it was weird that she was taking a picture of random people getting proposed to, but maybe she just wanted a picture of love in Paris.

Anyway, after we hugged, I realized he didn’t put the ring on me. I pointed to the ground where he knelt and I said, “You should get on one knee again and put the ring on.” So Logan got on one knee, less nervous than before, and put the ring on – a perfect fit. It was the double halo ring with a princess cut. Beautiful.

Afterward, we walked around to Notre Dame, the Seine river bridges, and the Louve to take pictures. I couldn’t stop looking at the ring.

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Day 6 – Paris

The 5 hour drive from Geneva to Paris was uneventful. Logan and I stopped at a rest stop to grab some breakfast and once more to fill up on gas. The highway we took, highway 5, was a tolled road that was a ticket you paid at your exit. Having no cash on hand, we were a little concerned about how we would pay the ticket if we only had Visa, the supposedly “Everywhere you want to be” card.

When we reached the city limits of Paris, the placid trip turned chaotic. As we approached the toll booth, Logan pulled out his Visa and the ticket. After the exchanging “Bon jour”, the lady at the toll booth took a look at the credit card and said, “Sorry, we don’t take Visa without the chip” in very little words. We looked at her and motioned “No money, only Visa.” Unfortunately, her machine did not take the Visa card without the smart chip.

She called up management and told us we had to go to the office and pay there. Before she opened the gate, she needed all of our irreplaceable documents: vehicle registration, passport, and our ticket. We pulled over to the office on the right, parked the car, and headed towards to the office. After circling the building, going up two flights of stairs, we approached the window: they were waiting for us. We gave them the Visa and luckily she had the machine to charge the card. It was pretty simple and quick.

As we were nearing the 1 mile mark to the hotel, driving in traffic was horrendous. Crazy motorcyclists passing on the dotted lines in between cars, traffic not budging because of all the jay walkers, one way streets, and 6 point intersections. As our GPS announced “Your destination is on the left,” we did not see a single hotel. Fed up with traffic, we decided to park the car and walk around to find the hotel. We entered two different places in the GPS – we found nothing.

We were so frustrated. None of our locations were mapping out to what we were looking for. We drove the same 10 blocks looking for the hotel and any parking garage. On our 3rd attempt to find a parking garage, we serendipitously encountered a different one. We didn’t care where we were – we just wanted to park and find the hotel. As we started walking, we realized we didn’t have a map or any idea where the hotel was. We just knew it was on Rue de Patay 90 and I desperately had to pee. I tried to pee at the shopping center where we parked, but we needed .5 Euros and we only had .3. We wandered aimlessly for 20 minutes until we finally found our sense of direction. I was about to burst and was even contemplating peeing in the nearest bush on the street.

We made it to the hotel (turns out our GPS was off 500 meters off from the actual location), I relieved myself in the bathroom, and went back to drive the car to the allocated hotel parking garage. The spaces were tiny, but the cars fit. Just as we parked and were heading back to the hotel, a huge Astro van pulled into the parking lot to park in the spot next to us. The crazy driver can within inches to our car at least 8 times in the 60 point turn to back into the parking spot. I kept yelling at the driver because I thought they would hit the car or me, standing right next to the car.

That was our start to Paris. Things got easier from there. We grabbed some lunch at the restaurant next to the hotel and started walking towards Notre Dame to site see then grab dinner at Chez Julien where we had 7:30 pm dinner reservations… or so we thought. It was about 7:15 pm when we arrived at Chez Julien to eat. Unfortunately, they don’t open until 7:30 pm so we some café at the café across the street to relax and people watch.

At 7:35 pm, we headed back to the restaurant to enjoy some dinner. Logan was sure this was the restaurant we made reservations at, but the waitress said our name was not on the list and apparently there were two Chez Julien in the city. The waitress called up the other location, but they didn’t have our reservation on the list either. The only seats they had available were outside in a make-shift tent.

We enjoyed a couple of Chateaubriand steaks and proceeded to walk across the bridge to take a look at Notre Dame and Paris’ beauty at night. We walked towards a balcony that overlooked the water when Logan reached into his pocket and pulled out a box, knelt on one knee, opened the box, and asked “Will you marry me?” I said yes and we took pictures by Notre Dame, the Seine river, and the Louve and went home. We called the parents to let them know and called it a night.

After an influx of emotions, we are now engaged. Our next post explains our journey of the proposal from two perspectives – his and mine. Enjoy!

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Day 5 – Geneva

Tired from all the driving and walking, Logan and I took today easy. We slept in and headed towards Geneva by noon. The main sites we wanted to see from Geneva were the flower clock and the Jet d’Eau. Other than that, it was off to explore the city and see what we could discover.

Parking in a garage, we headed towards the Jet. It was a stream of water that shot off of a pier. I was thoroughly disappointed. It was literally a jet. We proceeded to walk across the river in search of lunch when it started raining. It was more than the Seattle “rain” but not pouring. It was enough to endure the walk, or so we thought.

On our way to the train station, we ran into an information office. Most restaurants were between 30 and 60 Swiss Francs with only 4 restaurants in our price range: 20 Francs. We walked around to two of the four restaurants and found only 1 accepted Visa. I was drenched. Just when we decided to invest in some umbrellas, it stopped raining.

We walked around old town and headed towards the United Nation buildings, only to find that we could not go past the gate. Instead, we explored the botanical gardens next door and headed home. Conserving our energy for the trip to Paris, we ate at the hotel and called it a night. Hopefully our trip will not be filled with the rain that we tried to leave in Seattle.

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Day 4 – Interlaken, Alps


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Interlaken

Zurich to Geneva is only a 3 hour drive. The trip Logan and I took was 12 hours because we took an unplanned detour to Interlaken in the middle of our drive. We initially thought Interlaken was a general area that described the area between two lakes, which it was, but it was a specific area ~1 hour deviation from our current route. We had planned for two days in Geneva so we decided to go out on adventure.

Along the route there were lots of vineyards along the hillside that bordered the lakes. I don’t know if they are famous for their wine, but the grape vines stretched all along Lake Neuchatel and Lake Beil. As we were heading to Interlaken, we were rerouted towards the countryside of farmland. Occasionally, we would run into a pile of gourds at the intersection. We looked around to see who was manning the goods, but there was no one there. Instead there was a grounded wooden box with the word “Caisse” and a slot for the money. Every couple of miles or so, we would see a similar cash box with gourds surrounding them.

After an hour or so, we finally made it to Interlaken. Because we didn’t have Swiss Francs, we parked in a parking garage that supposedly accepted credit cards. We walked around, took pictures, and roamed as tourists do. Even in the clouds, the Alps looked majestic and beautiful. I also noticed a lot of Asian and Korean restaurants. We speculated that a lot of Asian tourists come to Interlaken and crave Asian food while they are on their 10 day bus tours in Europe.

We ate at a hotel restaurant that had a money room (a room walled with real money people sign) and waiters dressed in cow pants. After lunch we headed back to the car. We gave the machine our ticket, proceeded to pay with our Visa… and the machine wouldn’t the credit card. We stood there dumbfounded. We had one of two options: withdraw francs or exchange our remaining 5 euros to francs. Since we were only there for one more night and most restaurants took Visa, we decided to try exchanging 1.5 euros (1.5 francs was our parking fee).

Since it’s Saturday, the only exchange location open was the train station. We walked over to the train station. When I asked to exchange 2 euros, the employee said no. They don’t exchange coins. I looked at him, confused why he wasn’t accepting coins, which were still currency. Then he finally said – it costs 4 francs to exchange the money.

4 francs. Instead of paying the 4 francs, we walked back to the parking garage and found a girl singing on the corner. I walked over to her with 3 euros in hand and told here – I will trade you 3 euros for 1.5 francs and you can keep the rest. She looked at me, unsure of the offer, trying to reiterate what I said. I repeated myself once more, hoping that she understood and she counted me 1.5 francs from her black guitar case. We thanked her and paid the parking fee with two coins that weighed less than a USD penny.

Instead of taking the highway to Geneva, we decided to sporadically drive through the swiss alps. I was rendered speechless as we drove the hair pin turns and tight mountain curves on the slick road in the fog. The route was beautiful – rolling hills, sheep grazing on the mountainside, and cows ringing their cow bells. We made it out of the mountains before sunset and stopped by a local restaurant off the highway. With my broken and minimal French, we ordered a couple of fish dishes and drove to our hotel in Galliard, France. Exhausted.

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Day 3 – Füssen and Zurich

Fussen and Zurich

After picking up the car from the BMW lot, Logan and I said goodbye to Munich in anticipation for our adventures in Zurich with a pit stop in Fussen. We weren’t sure what was awaiting us there, but we got up at 5 am and left by 8 am. The weather was a bit gloomy in the morning – raining and gray… weather we thought we left back in Seattle.

I fell asleep in the car on the way to Fussen, but was greeted by Cinderella’s castle. There were actually two castles in Fussen – Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Neuschwanstein was barricaded by scaffolds but a pleasant view of the landscape, nonetheless. As we were approaching Fussen, God blessed us with the weather clearing up for a beautiful day.

We walked around the castles and enjoyed a light lunch of Jagerschnitzel and Chicken schnitzel with a couple of hefeweizens and headed towards Zurich. After multiple wrong turns and missed directions, we finally made it to Zurich. Still tired from the drive, we checked in and headed straight to the Hilton where we met our friend, Stephanie, to explore the city.

Zurich is small in size that you could walk around the entire city in a couple of hours to the main sites, but majestic with its rustic buildings towering over the cobblestone allies and squares. They even have candlelit dinners on trolleys. After exploring the city, we walked along the river to indulge in cheese and wild mushroom fondue with wheat bread. The potent smell was too much to endure indoors, so we relaxed on the patio with the bubbling concoction of cheese, garlic, wild mushrooms, cherry liquor, and wine.

After a long day, we separated ways around 10 PM to rest for the next day’s adventures.

The route

Generally, the route we took from Munich to Zurich was breathtaking. We took local highways from Munich to Zurich and experienced the countryside of Bavaria. Real Bavarian towns centralized on the main road with distinct architecture and history. We highly recommend taking the long way rather than going to Zurich directly from Munich. It takes an extra 3 to 4 hours, depending on how many wrong turns you make, but it is well worth the journey.

The music

Interesting fact. While we have been on the road, we have continuously been listening to the local stations to get a feel for the music culture. We found that every station plays one song and goes on a 20 minute rant on a talk show. Granted, it may be because we were on the road on a week day, but it was a lot of yapping in German and minimal music to keep us entertained.

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