22.5.13

Living in the Mountains

Phew. The past few weeks have been full of traveling, which has been absolutely lovely and exactly what I want(ed), but it is nice to be home--to sleep in my own bed and not be living out of a suitcase.

After Italy, we had just three days of school and then a mini-vacation again. Over here, most of the Christian holidays are national holidays, which means we have the day(s) off. On Thursday of the week after my Italy trip was Auffahrt (*Himmelfahrt in Hochdeutsch--I was told today that Auffahrt in Hochdeutsch means "driveway" Ha!). Auffahrt (*Himmelfahrt) translates to Ascension Day. During my stay in Italy, I realized that the free days for Auffahrt would be my last chance to go to Vienna, since it isn't worth it to go for a weekend with the journey lasting about 8.5hrs each way. So, I spontaneously asked my friend Keri if I could stay with her and visit from Wednesday, May 8-Sunday, May 12. It was a lot of fun, catching up with old friends and meeting Keri's friends and seeing the city after being away for two years. I had forgotten a lot, but also remembered a lot more than I thought I would have. And man, was it nice to see the U-Bahn (subway) again. I'm pretty sure Vienna has one of the best public transportation systems--certainly the best I've encountered.

I took the train back to Winterthur, quickly washed all my clothes, unpacked my suitcase and repacked my suitcase again. On Monday at 7:00am, I set off with the 1. Oberstufe (7th grade) and their class teacher, Stefan, on their weeklong camp trip. We stayed in a house (Bärghus Metjen) in Eischoll, Wallis, which is in the southern part of Switzerland.
The red outlined part is canton Wallis (Valais in English) and the orange "A" is where we were--Eischoll.
The train ride was pretty good, even though there were 23 energy-filled (natural energy and energy-drink energy) students surrounding Stefan and I, and we even stopped outside of Bern to get a tour of the Lötschberg Tunnel, which is a really long tunnel for trains that goes through a mountain, so that we don't have to go all the way around the mountain. We took buses into an unfinished part of the tunnel and were given a tour, which included seeing a train go by at 200km/h in the other side of the tunnel (we were separated by thick glass).
Unfinished tunnel

There was a part of the unfinished tunnel that was set up as a museum
We all wore bright vests and hard hats--so fashionable ;-)

Then we continued on our way. We took the train to Brig and picked up our luggage there (luckily I was able to send mine with the other teacher, Rita, that came along, because she drove her car there), and then continued on to Raron. In Raron, we walked a short ways to a Luftseilbahn (cable car), where we went up in small groups with our suitcases.

It might look scary, but it absolutely was not. I was too distracted by the beauty of the mountains to be scared. I took about a zillion pictures, half of which all look the same, but was just so mesmerizing!

Our house was on the side of the mountain, which was so cool. On one day we went on a "Spaziergang" (walk) as a class, which the teacher later admitted to being a "kleine Wanderung" (small hike), but to my American eyes/legs, it was more of a regular-sized hike. We hiked up some very steep parts of the mountain and through the woods. After that stretch, the kids found a playground with a giant trampoline and the boys practiced doing tons of flips, and then we hiked back home.
The view from after a large part of the steep hike


He then tried to convince me to do some flips. Ha.
This kid has a trainer for this, so he actually knows what he's doing!

Group picture!
The rest of the week was super relaxing and fun. The students prepared, cooked, and cleaned up after all of the meals. Their projects for the week were to make a short movie (any topic, but self-written, acted and directed) and print t-shirts. I even got to join on the t-shirt making:
Swiss Flag in the shape of a heart on the front...

and "Frau Tucker" printed on the back :-)
On Wednesday, Rita (the other teacher) and her son, Andre, and I went to Leukerbad to walk around and see the mountains a little more. It was cold and a little rainy, so it wasn't the best day to do that, but it was still a lot of fun. We ate lunch in a typical Swiss restaurant and ate Raclette (boiled potatoes with melted cheese and other toppings), which is a typical Swiss meal, so that was a really cool experience!



The potatoes are kept warm in this cloth bag

These are the toppings we had--Raclette spices, pickles, pearl onions,
and a creamy onion mix.But you can eat anything you like with Raclette!

You are given a plate with melted cheese and then you eat it
with potatoes and whatever toppings you want. When one plate of
cheese is gone, you can get another one.
Andre LOVES Raclette :-)



On Friday, we took off around 10am, and this time I went back in the car with the other teacher and her son. I went back by car because she wanted to show me some cool things in Switzerland. First, I got to experience a car-train, where you drive into a specific compartment for cars and get pulled through a tunnel that goes through a mountain (like the Lötschberg Tunnel). 
Heading into the tunnel
Then, we stopped at the historic Teufelsbrücke (devil's bridge) and Tellsplatte (William Tell tribute)
Teufelsbrücke

A painting at the Tellsplatte

The Tellsplatte is right on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne), which although it was cloudy, it was really pretty.
And now I'm home. We even had Monday off of school for Pfingsten (Pentecost--another religious holiday), so I had a few days to enjoy being at home and not traveling--even though all this traveling has been absolutely a dream come true!

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