With a title like that, I'd gladly take a punch to the face. I'm a proud Tran, but my mom's maiden name is Nguyen.
Monday: Arrived in Lausanne and spent a quiet day roaming the city with my aunt. We walked around Lake Geneva, went into the Olympic Museum for a bit, and visited her old university campus. Went to the city shopping center, did some grocery shopping, came home for dinner with my uncle, and had some relaxing downtime to recoup.
Tuesday: Pilatus at Luzern! Met up with my aunt's friend and now my friend, Hien, in the morning and headed out for a two and a half hour drive to Luzern. Parked the car, had a small picnic on the edge of Lake Luzern. Half an hour later, a boat coincidentally marked for Pilatus pulls up alongside our bench. We rush to buy tickets, board the boat, look at the time, and wonder how we're supposed to get down the mountain once we get up there. We land at our stop where I met a New Zealander who joined us as we took the world's steepest cogwheel train (48° angle) up to the top of Pilatus at an elevation of 7,000 feet. The day was still a bit cloudy, but the view overlooking Luzern and its lake was breathtaking. If only I could put up pictures to show everyone... We stayed as long as we could before taking a panoramic gondolin down the mountain, (passing by toboggan tracks and suspension rope park that I will definitely go to the next time I'm in town) and riding the bus back to the starting point.
From there, we did some siteseeing before walking into an absolutely gorgeous Chinese restaurant that was owned and operated by Hien's good friends. Shanghai 3 is the name. There was marble flooring and statues, huge bonsai trees at every turn, decorated ceilings with Chinese lanterns, and a salt water fish tank that must've been taken straight out of the Great Barrier Reef since it cost $300k for the custom L-shaped design, live coral plants, and huge variety of fish. If only I could put up pictures to show everyone... Food was damned good too. And to end the day, we talked for a while with the owner who ended up not letting us pay for what must have been at least a $200 dinner. Gotta say, that day was a good day.
Wednesday: Valorbe and it's underground river! Another day with just me and my aunt. We arrived at the town of Valorbe (pop. 3087 and some cows) via train, hiked through a serene and postcard-like forest, and arrived at the mouth of a cave. And like any good tourist destination, we paid for admission, received a walkthrough guide, and followed the path to the sites of beautiful stalactites, stalacmites, and a roaring river beneath our feet. We took another path back home to an even more postcard-like section of the forest and headed back home where I met with another aunt for dinner. Oh, and I forked over 200 bucks to stay an additional two weeks to be an international hobo of mystery.
Thursday: Jungfraujoch! An elevation of 11, 782 ft. is pretty cozy by train, I have to say. My aunt and I boarded a train bound for Interlaken in the morning and took the Jungfraubahn the rest of the way. I met a Thai brother and sister on the train and we all smiled and waved as our train was being filmed from an old-school helicopter. Probably for the next Swiss movie smash hit. Or a tourist video. I have a hard time telling them apart. We arrive at the top and explore. First up was the panoramic deck that froze every one of my expletives off. But it was worth it!
The Aletsch glacier to the south, the view, breathing above the clouds... Amazing. Second was getting to the bottom of the observation area and walking around. Amazing times two. Third and last was walking through a tunnel dug through the glacier complete with ice statues. Amazing divided by two, plus 23 for effort. Made our way back home after a stop in the town of Thun, and slept very, very well.
On a side note, my ATM card had expired at the end of September. Forgot to get this taken care of before I left, but what can I say, I live on the edge. Thanks Sister for providing me with means to buy stuff like food.
Friday: My grandma's temple where she used to be a Buddhist nun and Geneva. Really brought back some great memories from when I was last there in 1995. Afterwards, my aunt and I took a boat out to Yvoirre before taking another boat the rest of the way to Geneva where we met up with my uncle, aunt, and cousins (2, the oldest one of which was recently married) for dinner.
Saturday: Met up with more family (uncle, aunt, and four cousins) for a trip to Annecy in France. Way too tired to write the rest of this now, but my cousins are as awesome as mountains.
Next up: Je parle Francais but not really and other such adventures in the land of Pareeeee.