Early European Adventures

I recently dug up some old group emails that my Mum has held onto, and decided to spend some time transcribing them back online for posterity here on my site (as my old Hotmail account dating back to the nineties is long gone).

Grüezi miteinander!

Sorry I haven’t been around for a while but I’ve been busy having too much fun!  The first few months of ’99 have been absolutely crazy, I’m loving Europe, and I haven’t really had time to take a breath.  I’ve also really been getting into my work (and they even require me to THINK! Wow!!).

Highlights so far include…

  • Snowboarding myself absolutely STUPID this winter (I think I’ve accomplished it pretty damn well!!!), and I can now plummet down a black run with some control and little thought of personal injury.  Some good resorts are soooo close to Baden too (1 1/2 hours away!).  Picked the right winter as well – the 2nd most severe this century!  It was a bit freaky seeing the legacy of all the avalanches up there – roads and railways swept away, huge trees snapped at their bases, destroyed buildings, etc. Places like Flumserberg, Hoch Ybrig, Laax-Flims and Engelberg rate a mention.  We’d usually head off the beaten track and find some fresh untouched powder we’d carve up for a few hours without seeing another person.  It’s an absolutely amazing feeling being in these deadly quiet mountains with the views in every direction.  The best trip would have to be the long weekend at Grindelwald (below the Eiger and Jungfrau mountains with blue skies, sun, and incredible views down into the valleys below) and also Zermatt.  It was amazing to see the Matterhorn in the flesh (or rock) – a truly awesome mountain.  However I’ve never been colder than above 3800m at Zermatt in near white-out conditions and below minus 30 degrees (not including the wind chill and it was blowing a f***ing gale!!!).  I even had icicles on my face (apparently, but I couldn’t tell you because it was just about frozen solid).  And they call that fun…!!!
  • A few fab days in Venice.  This place really blew my mind and I immediately fell in love with it.  You could just wander the streets and canals for hours and not get bored, find a tiny restaurant to eat in and just relax.  I was there with my friend Katie B, and we’d incidentally timed our visit with Carnavale, so the whole place was packed with people in costumes and Venetian masks, with music and dancing everywhere.  It was great to be there for it and a great way to see it.
  • Rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous along the French Riviera over Easter.  We did it touch in Nice and Monaco for a few days, basically just taking it easy on the beach (if you can call that stony Mediterranean crap a beach…!).  Monaco was great: a beautiful city, every second car a Ferrari (and you think I’m kidding?!?!), rich wankers on expensive yachts, money, money, money, money, money (uh, not me, them!).  Even had a bit of a dabble in the Monte Carlo Casino just to say I have!
  • Seeing just about everything in Switzerland (it’s not that big…!).  On the weekends I’ll usually go somewhere new, and places I’ve been to so far include Luzern/Pilatus with great views over Lake Luzern and the Alps, numerous mountain-tops and resorts (Titlis, Vorab, Klein Matterhorn, etc.), everywhere in the Swiss Alps, Bern, Geneva, Basel etc. (and of course Zurich which is right nearby).  In spring/summer I’m planning on doing heaps of hiking through the mountains, which should be great.
  • Going to Basel at 3am on a Monday morning for Morgenstreich.  This is a parade that happens every Feb: as the town clock strikes three, all the lights go out and the processions of piccolos and drums meander the cobbled streets of the old town.  Decorative candle lanterns on the musician’s heads light the streets, and they all wear the most intricate masks.  It might sound a tad shite and weird but it was actually a fantastic experience.  I was well knackered at work that day though…
  • Playing rugger for the Zurich Rugby Club.  That’s right, I couldn’t have a year without rugby.  The standard of the game is pretty poor, the competition disorganised (aaaah, just like home…), but still a hell of a lot of fun.  It cracks me up travelling the whole length of the country for a rugby game, and being able to do it in less that 4 hours!  The minibus ride back is of course made much more pleasurable with copious quantities of alcohol, gratuitous male nudity and filthy and offensive rugby songs.

So that’s what I’ve been doing with myself.  In a few days I’m off to Turkey for 2 1/2 weeks backpacking.  I’m going to be in Gallipoli for Anzac Day which should be a really incredible experience.  After that it’s down the Aegean Coast for the beaches and some ye olde ruins, then I’m heading inland to have a squiz at the underground cities, gorges and some more ruins, then it’s back to Istanbul (no ruins there, just mosques, carpet salesmen, palaces and bazaars).  Should be a great trip.

It’s been a strange experience living in Switzerland with so many differences to Australia, but I can see you all saying, “Shit, how long does this email go on for!”, so I’ll save it for another time.

Anyway, enough from me.  Hope everything’s great wherever you are in the world.  Y’all keep in touch now, y’hear!

Tschüss, Paul.

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