Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Trip - Day 11: Interlaken & Geneva, Switzerland

Monday, June 21, 2010

When the sun came up I did what most people go to Interlaken for: I went for a hike.  I originally planned to go on a really big long hike up to the top of some hill but that was a little too overzealous because from my big bag weighing down and my lack of sleep catching up to me, I turned around in about an hour.
I took the train to Geneva where a couchsurfer told me that I could stay at his place.  He lived in a one room dorm-style apartment with a common bathroom/kitchen etc.  He was actually out of town for the week and apparently never locks his door so as long as I could get into the building (just wait for someone walking in/out) I could stay in his room.  This is one of the best examples of the trust of couchsurfers.  I think it’s a great network and was very surprised by the trust that he was extending to me; someone he had never met before.

After taking a 2-hour nap in his apartment, I woke up to find a good place to watch the Switzerland/Chile football game.  I asked a local if there were any public-viewing areas and he said there was one by the Genevan stadium but he didn’t know exactly where and couldn’t tell me how to get there.  I took a tram to that general area and knew I was going in the right direction when I saw about 50 people walking decked out in their red & white.  When I got to the big screen, it was more impressive than I expected.  A huge enclosed complex with tons of bars & restaurants were set up around a plaza with a big screen.  The newspaper the next day said there were over 10,000 people viewing the game there.  Despite the result there was so much energy, it really made it a special time.

(Side note: what I was most impressed with when it came to Geneva was the level of internationalism in the country.  Before the Swiss game started there were so many horns honking, flags waving, people cheering, as thousands of Portuguese fans took the streets celebrating their 7-0 win over North Korea.  One would never have guessed they were anywhere but Portugal at the time.  The same was the case for Spain; after their win there were more Spanish flags, jerseys and supporters than I had seen for any country in my last week and a half of travel.)

After the game, I found another McDonalds to check my email and was unhappy to find out that my original couchsurfing offer to stay at this guy’s apartment was withdrawn, as the guy forgot he promised his room to another friend who needed a place to stay.  As soon as I read this, I immediately sent out a series of new couchsurfing requests and went back to the apartment to 1) clean up, in case the friend were to come soon and 2) take a nap and get as much sleep as possible, for the possibility that, yet again, I didn’t have a place to stay at night.  I slept until the Spain game, then went down to a local bar to watch the game (and unfortunately forgot to bring my camera).  I then went back to the McDonalds to check on my couchsurfing requests and figure out my itinerary for the next day(s).  I didn’t get any positive couchsurf answers so I was just going to hope that the apartment was free when I got back and, if not, have to stay up all night before my 7:15 departure the next morning.  I originally wanted to stay in Geneva an extra day but the combination of me not having a place to stay and not wanting to be traveling during the US game made me decide to go back to the Netherlands a day early.

I got back to the apartment finding it empty (I’m guessing the friend wasn’t coming until the next day).  I was luckily able to shower and get a few hours of sleep.  Just like before most tests in college… if I stay up to a certain point and know I won’t get a decent night sleep, I fear that I won’t wake up the next day so I decide to stay up the entire night instead.  I tried to do this for a while, but by the time 4am came around I cared less about missing my train the next morning and just needed to sleep a bit.

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