Patricia's Great Alps Adventure


It's amazing how one place can capture your imagination and leave you longing
to see it many, many years after you first see a picture of it.  I don't
know when I first saw Neuschwanstein Castle and decided that it was a place
I wanted to see - maybe it was from one of those many slide shows of my
parent's trip to Germany in the 70s - but I took German in high school with
the hopes of someday going to see the castle (not that I remember much of
the German now).  So I finally got up the courage to go to a foreign country
where English is not the main language and go at it alone.  So I set off 
Sunday, September 14 for a 2 week vacation to visit the castles and Alps of 
Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The first adventure was the long 10 hour flight.  I had tried to get my body
a little adjusted to the upcoming 7 hour time difference by going to bed
early and getting up around 4 am for the previous 2 nights.  I also hoped
that this would help me be able to sleep on the airplane.  This backfired
big time.  I got about 6 hours of sleep Saturday night and was completely
unable to fall asleep on the plane.  I tried once and after about 20 minutes
finally fell asleep for 30 minutes, but woke up wide awake after that.
Later I tried again and had just fallen asleep when my body betrayed me with
one of those twitches that wakes you up and I gave up.  So I arrived in
Zurich, Switzerland at 8 am local time on Monday (1 am Dallas time) with a
full day in front of me and less than an hour of sleep.

Day 1, Monday September 15
After arriving in Zurich and (thankfully) getting my luggage came the
adventure of the rental car.  A car is a car is a car, right?  Well, they're
a little different in Europe.  I got a free upgrade (read, they didn't have
my grade in stock) and got a mini-van, spaceship type vehicle.  After
getting everything loaded, my maps out, and my seat adjusted (after having
asked how do you adjust the seat), I thought I was ready to roll and headed
on out.  I got to the exit where you have to push the button to get a ticket
and found I had no idea how to roll the window down.  Absolutely no buttons
or anything on the door.  Nothing that looked like a window button on the
console to the left, nothing on the nobs from the steering wheel.  I got out
and played stupid tourist and asked someone how to roll the window down
down.  Turned out to be a button on the middle of the console, under the
stereo that had an A in a slanted rectangle on it.  Never would have guessed
that button.  So then I was fully off, driving in a country where I didn't
fully know what all the signs meant or how I was going to get where I was
going.  I was headed from Zurich to the Fussen area (Neuschwanstein) and had
a bit of a drive ahead of me.  The driving signs weren't really much of a 
problem, but the map and road signs were terrible.  I ended up picking a
large city that was along my way and following the signs that said that city
this way.  This worked fairly well, except for the one change of direction
that I missed that caused a 30 minute out of the way detour.  I spent a 
lot of my driving going "Friggin A!" (couldn't get where I wanted to go or
wasn't sure I was headed the right way) and "You rule!" (saw I sign that 
said I was heading in the right direction) as I tried to make my way to 
where I wanted to go.  Sometimes one was followed right after the other - 
and one 10 minute sequence of "Friggin A!", "You rule!", "Friggin A!", and 
"You rule!" as I couldn't find the turn I needed, then saw a sign saying 
the town I needed this way, then a sign saying the way to the town was 
closed, and then following someone who looked like they knew where they were
going and eventually ended up on the right road.  Fortunately I wasn't in a
rush in getting to where I was going.  It was a long drive, but in pretty 
rolling hills most of the way.  Another interesting thing about driving was
the Speed Racer mentality.  When you are sitting at a red light, the yellow
light will come on while the red light is still on to signal that the light
is about to turn green.  So I arrived in the Fussen area around 2:30 pm and 
decided that I just had to drive by Neuschwanstein before heading to my 
hotel (which was in another town).  And there it was, the majestic white
building in the mountains.  I controlled myself and only took 5 different
pictures of it.  After driving around for different views of the castle, I
headed to Reutte, Austria (about 15 minutes south of Fussen) for my hotel 
and to hopefully crash for a bit.  I got to the hotel and found out that 
they never got my confirmation note and, thus, didn't reserve a room for me.  
With the lack of sleep I had, I really didn't need a crisis.  Fortunately 
the lady was really nice and able to put me in a small room for that night 
and then move me to a better room for the next 2 nights.  So after that mess
was settled and my room readied, I crashed.  My inability to sleep continued
as I only slept for 30 minutes.  So I got up and put my hiking gear on and 
went to the nearby Ehrenberg Ruins.  There are 4 separate ruins and I saw 3
of them.  1st was the toll booth castle on the valley floor, which is in the
process of being excavated and rebuilt - it is going to be made into a
museum.  I took the 20 minute hike up a hill/small mountain to the lower 
castle ruins.  This castle was built in 1290.  There is enough walls left 
to get a sense of what the castle was like.  After wandering around these
ruins, I then took the steep trail up the mountain to the upper castle 
ruins - this castle was built after cannonballs were lofted at the lower
castle from the ridge above.  It is a large castle and has a series of
tunnels.  It was a pretty neat way to spend my early evening.  I got back
to the hotel around 8 pm and crashed (and stayed asleep this time).

Day 2, Tuesday September 16
The long awaited day arrived as I planned on spending the day around
Neuschwanstein Castle.  I got the combo ticket for touring both
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castle.  The tour starts with
Hohenschwangau and after a pretty 20 minute walk by the lake and up to the
castle through the main gate, I was ready for my first castle tour.
Hohenschwangau Castle was the family castle that King Maximilian (Ludwig's
father) rebuilt in 1836.  It was designed as a private family get away
(just a little old thing :) ), so the inside is not as gaudy as the other
Bavarian castles.  There were still plenty of lush items inside.
Unfortunately both castles do not allow photographs to be taken inside
(the flashes diminish paint colors over time).  So after that nice tour, I
was ready for the main event.  I still had an hour before my
Neuschwanstein tour.  I took the shorter steps down the hill on which
Hohenschwangau Castle sits and then hiked up the larger hill
Neuschwanstein was built upon.  I bought a pretzel and walked around the
castle area and enjoyed the massive building while waiting for my tour 
time.  I was slightly disappointed to see that one of the towers was 
surrounded by scaffolding as they did maintenance on the building (and 
will be doing so for the next 2 years).  But the castle is as stunning 
from the outside as the pictures seem.  Now, the inside is just gaudy.  
Neuschwanstein Castle was one of 3 castles that King Ludwig II of Bavaria 
built (only 1 was completed).  Construction started in 1869 and ended with
his death - only about 19 rooms were completed.  The rooms that were 
completed (besides the servants quarters) are covered with paintings, 
stucco, wood carvings, porcelain, and gold.  It's impressive, but too 
much.  After touring the castle, I walked down to the Alpsee (lake) near 
by and walked around for a bit for a nice view of the 2 castles from the 
lake.  There was also a swan swimming on the lake - which was very 
appropriate as the swan is pretty much the mascot for Ludwig's family.  
After that, I took a longer walk trying to find the tram that went up to 
the top of one of the nearby mountains.  I eventually found it and went up
to the top to take a 2 hour hike over to Neuschwanstein.  It was a pretty 
hike, but I was a little disappointed as I was expecting a lot of views of
Neuschwanstein along the way and there were only 2 short views until the 
last 1/2 hour of the hike.  Still the views from above were wonderful and 
I enjoyed my full day of Neuschwanstein.

Day 3, Wednesday September 17
The morning started out nice and slow as I got stuck behind 8 campers on a
2-lane road and they were heading for the same destination as I was.  We
were all heading out to the Weis Church, a plain looking church from the
outside but elaborately decorated inside.  The church was built in 1739 as 
a pilgrimage stop after a statue in the old church supposedly wept.  The
inside is constructed in the rocco-baroque style with lots and lots of
stucco and the ceiling is covered with religious paintings.  It is quite a
sight.  After not too long of a visit there, I headed to Linderhof Castle.
I really liked this castle, but it also held one of the bigger
disappointments of the trip as the entire front of the main building was
covered with scaffolding and they had placed a canvas painting of what the
building looked like in front of the scaffolding.  Linderhof was the only
one of Ludwig II's castles to be completed.  Linderhof was completed in 1886
and includes a large park with a number of smaller buildings - Linderhof
itself is a smaller size castle.  The inside was as gaudy as Ludwig loved
his interiors with lots of paintings and gold and stucco.  But the outside
and grounds are just lovely.  I spent several hours roaming fountain areas
around the castle, the vast grounds, and smaller ornate buildings.  It was 
about 3 pm when I finished up with Linderhof and had nothing else planned 
for the day.  I had the depressing Dachau scheduled for the next morning 
and decided to move it up to that afternoon.  So around 4 pm I reached the 
Nazi concentration camp and spent a somber hour (it closed at 5 pm) at the 
museum and walking around the grounds.  On the drive back to my hotel, I 
made a last drive by Neuschwanstein for my final look as I wasn't going to
be going that direction the next morning.

Day 4, Thursday September 18
The day started off with a pretty drive along the northern Austria boarder
before hitting the autobahn to head to Munich.  On the autobahn, which 
doesn't have speed limits most of the time, I reached my top speed of 162 
kph - about 100 mph.  Most of the time I was in the 80s mph as I went with 
what I was comfortable with.  In Germany, that left a lot of people passing 
me; but in Austria and Switzerland, I was passing most people.  The
destination for the morning was the Nymphenburg Palace - the Bavarian
royalty summer home.  Nymphenburg Palace was built in the mid 1600s.  In
addition to the large main building, there are a number of smaller 
buildings, fountains, and lakes in the almost 500 acre park.  After touring
the palace - the vast and grandly painted and stucco Grand Hall was worth
the visit alone (the interior was decorated/painted by the same people who
did the Weis Church, with the paintings based on mythology instead of
religion) - I started walking around the grounds.  Throughout the many 
hours I spent at Nymphenburg, I felt a strong sense of this being a place 
of royalty.  I walked all over the park and visited many of the smaller
building (quaint "little" lodges and houses).  I had originally planned on
just spend a few hours here then going to the Deutsches Museum (science
and technology), but was enjoying myself so much at the Nymphenburg Palace
that I spent most of the day there and didn't visit the Deutsches Museum.
At about 3 pm, I was finally done with the park and more than ready to move
on.  I got in the car and drove to Prien am Chiemsee (between Munich and
Salzburg) where I spent the night and visited a castle the next morning.

Day 5, Friday September 19
The morning started with a boat ride out to Herrenchiemsee Castle on an
island.  Herrenchiemsee was the 3rd castle that Ludwig II built and only an
handful of the rooms were completed before construction stopped in 1886.
The castle was designed based on Versailles and the interior paintings were
based on Louis XIV.  Though the inside was impressive and excessive, I loved
the statues and fountains that were part of the waterpark in front of the
building.  Afterwards I headed to Salzburg to visit the Hohensalzburg
Fortress.  The fortress goes back to real olden times as construction was
started in 1077 and various changes and additions were made through 1681.
After seeing so many more "recent" castles, it was very interesting touring
this older place - I especially got a small laugh when the guide described
the bishop's room as being "ornate".  After walking around the fortress and
taking the tour, I walked back down into town (the fortress is on a hill) 
and wandered around the area immediately below the fortress.  I had not
planned on doing anything other than the fortress in Salzburg, but was
enjoying the architecture and statues.  On a whim, I went into the the
Salzburg Cathedral and was very glad that I had.  The cathedral was built in
the early 1600s and was glamorously decorated with paintings on the ceilings
and elaborate wood carved alters.  I quietly wandered around the building
for a little bit.  Back outside, they had a carnival going on and I picked
up a nut pretzel while heading back towards the car.  With all the castles I
had visited in the past few days, I was castled out and ready to move on to 
the more nature part of my trip.  I drove further into Austria to Hallstatt,
which is a small (but touristy) town next to a lake in a valley in the Alps.

Day 6, Saturday September 20
The morning started with a short drive around the lake to the lift for the
Dachstein Ice Caves.  I had thought about hiking down from the caves, but
after seeing how steep it was, I elected not to, figuring I'd do more hiking
later in the day.  The ice caves are half way up the mountain and have ice
formations and fields throughout most of the caves.  This was the only time
that I didn't have an English tour (had an English brochure), so I just
looked around as German was spoken around me.  It was nifty to look at, but
I don't think I missed anything by not being able to understand the tour
guide.  After descending back down to the valley, I headed back over to
Hallstatt and up a tram along a small mountain to the Saltzwelten - Salt
Mines.  I took the really touristy and kitschish tour of the mine.  After
first putting on some ugly "mining" clothes, we walked a ways into the mine,
heard lots and lots of talk (German and English) about salt mining, slid
down 2 mining slides, had a silly mannequin talking about something (in
German), watched a laser show on a salt lake, and a train ride took us out
of the mine to finish.  Sounds really corny, right?  But I had a blast - it
was a guilty pleasure.  I even bought the photo they took of me going down 
one of the slides.  Instead of being lazy this time, I did hike down from 
the mine back into the town.  It was a pretty hike through the forest with 
some view of the lake area.  I then drove over to a nearby lake, Lake Gosau,
and hiked around it and up to a smaller lake, Back Lake Gosau, - about a 3
hour hike.  It was a pretty area and the granite peaks were above the Back
Lake Gosau.

Day 7, Sunday September 21
It was an uneventful and long day as I had an 8 1/2 hour drive from 
Hallstatt, Austria to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland (Interlaken area).  There 
was some pretty countryside and lots and lots of tunnels.  Because I wasn't 
sure how long the drive was going to take, I just made it a straight drive 
through without any stops - and was glad I did.  My drive did take me 
through Liechtenstein, so I can say that I went to 4 different countries - 
though it was less than an hour in Liechtenstein.  After finally reaching 
Lauterbrunnen - and being very glad I was heading the direction I was as all
the weekenders were going the other way - I had trouble finding my hotel.  I
went through town and didn't see it and decided to go ahead and drive to the
end of the valley to enjoy the scenery.  Going back, I did see my hotel as I
passed it and did yet another u-turn to reach it.

Day 8, Monday September 22
There were concerns that the weather was going to turn sour, so I shuffled
my schedule and decided to go to the Jungfraujoch first thing that morning.
After spending a ton of money for a 5-day rail pass (I did get my money's
worth out of the pass, though) and the extra ticket up to Jungfraujoch, I 
got on the train for a long ride up to the "Top of Europe".  The train
station is near the top of a mountain (inside the mountain) and there is a
number of view points at the stop, an elevator to a viewing platform, and
2 exits outside to the glaciers covering the tops.  I headed outside and
then made the 30 minute walk on the glacier to the highest restaurant in
Switzerland, where I had hot chocolate and lunch.  The clear sky went away
while I was eating as the clouds came rolling in (and had me kicking
myself about some of the pictures I didn't take earlier).  They were nice
and thick as I was walking back as I could no longer see the exit to the
station to the outside - it was a well defined, wide trail, so there was
no concern about getting lost or off the trail.  I went back inside and
took the elevator up to the viewing platform; couldn't see much because of
the clouds, though.  I went back down and over to the ice palace - a cave
through the glacier with ice sculptures at spots.  It was fun as the floor
was ice and I shuffled along.  After a short visit outside the other exit
(just to a small viewing area), I took the train back down and headed over
to Grindelwald.  [There are 2 main valleys in the area, Lauterbrunnen is
in one and Grindelwald is in the other.]  I took the lift from Grindelwald
up to First and had planned on hiking to 2 mountain lakes.  Unfortunately
I found out that the last lift down was at 5 pm and it was already 3:30
and I wouldn't have time to do that hike and get back for the last lift -
and I didn't want to hike all the way back down.  So I got up to First and
looked around and headed back down to a lower station, Bort.  There I
rented a bike-scooter type thing (2 wheels like a bike with hand brakes 
except you stand instead of sit) and had the thrill ride of coasting (and
riding the brakes) the rest of the way back to Grindelwald.  It was fun.
I took the longer, scenic train ride back to Lauterbrunnen.

Day 9, Tuesday September 23
The weather did indeed turn sour and stayed overcast all day.  I had planned
on hiking this day and didn't alter my plans early on.  I took the lift back
up to First.  It was heavily overcast (in fact, I was in the clouds) and
drizzling.  I killed a little bit of time with a cup of hot chocolate, while
hoping the clouds would lift some.  No such luck.  So I headed off on the
trail in the clouds and drizzle.  It was a miserable hike as I was cold and
wet (even with my rain poncho) and the scenery was very blah - just brown
grass covered mountains.  I reached the lake in less than an hour,
re-adjusted my rain gear, said hi to the cows, and headed back.  From the 
pictures, the hike is stunning on a clear day with views of the granite 
peaks across the valley, but with the clouds it wasn't pretty at all.  So I
headed back to my hotel for some dry and warmer clothes and was done hiking
for the day after that short outing.  Taking advice from a travel book on
what to do on a rainy day, I went to the Trummelbach Falls.  The falls are
the run-off from the glaciers above that comes powerfully through a crevice
in the mountainside.  It was very impressive, but not really worth the cost.
I decided to head into the bigger tourist town of Interlaken [my rail pass
got plenty of use] and walked through the town looking in the shops and had
dinner at McDonalds.  [I'm a very picky eater and ate very poorly during
this trip.  Outside of one meal, McDonalds was the only time I ate meat, so 
I tried to find one every other day.  You really don't want to know how 
poorly I ate during this trip.]  Altogether, not a great day.

Day 10, Wednesday September 24
The clouds were still around, but at least it wasn't raining.  I took the
long way to Grindelwald, hoping that the clouds would lift some as the
sun got higher, but they stayed.  I took a lift up (not too high) and did a
nice, pretty hike to a view point for a glacier.  The clouds did obscure 
the views some, but I could see some of the mountains and glacier.  It was a
very nice trail (and it was a true trail, not a dirt road) and, like a lot
of trails in the Alps, there is a restaurant at the end.  So I got a cup of
hot chocolate and sat for a bit and enjoyed the views (that I could see).
After returning to the Lauterbrunnen valley, I took the tram up and over to
Murren - a small tourist town a little ways up the mountainside.  I didn't
find anything interesting in the town.  It was only about 4 pm, so I decided
to walk aways back instead of taking the rail.  And then I hit the junction
for an hour hike back down to Lauterbrunnen and decided to go that way.  I 
was very glad I did as it was one of the better hikes from my trip.  The 
trail went through the woods (so the clouds didn't bother the views) and
over a number of small waterfalls.  Very pleasant and a nice end to the day.

Day 11, Thursday September 25
I went down to breakfast nice and early and looked outside and saw a
beautiful, clear sky.  Of course, this was a day that a large chunk would be
spent in the car.  Oh well, 3 poor weather days out of 14 is better than one
could hope for (the 3rd was on the last day of my trip).  I drove to the end
of the valley and then to the Grindelwald valley for a last look at the 
mountains (with the clear sky) before heading out.  After driving several 
hours, I reach Lake Geneva (on the East side) and stopped at the Chateau de 
Chillon.  The medieval fortress was built in the 11th century and various 
additions were made to it through the 15th century.  It reminded me a lot
of the fortress at Salzburg, but a bit smaller.  It was an interesting
historical place.  I continued my drive on towards Zermatt and back into the
Alps.  I parked at Tasch and took the train into Zermatt - public cars are 
not allowed in Zermatt.  After dropping my stuff at my hotel, I headed
over to one of the lift stations and bought a 3-day pass [minimum day pass
they sold].  The man asked if I wanted it to start tomorrow, but I said, 
"No, today."  It was about 3:30 pm so he tried to talk me out of it (one of
the lifts was already closed for the day), but I told him that it was 
beautiful outside and I wanted to go up and take a look around in case the 
weather turned sour (like had happened in Lauterbrunnen).  So I got my pass
and took the lift up to Schwarzsee and had some nice view of the Matterhorn
and the mountains of the area.  I didn't stay too long and went back to my
hotel where I sat on my balcony and read some with the Matterhorn and
setting sun viewable in the distance.

Day 12, Friday September 26
The weather stayed wonderful for the next day and I started the morning
off as a sardine.  I was heading up to the highest view point in the area,
the Klein Matterhorn [not part of the Matterhorn].  So were several 
hundred summer skiers.  We were crammed shoulder to shoulder into one 
tram, reached a station and shifted over to another tram and crammed into 
it, and reached another station and crammed into another tram before 
finally reaching the top.  I took a brief look outside before taking the 
elevator up to the viewing platform.  I took a short look around at the 
pretty views - short because it was freezing up there.  I went back to the
hut for the elevator (fortunately it was in a hut) and 2 guys got off the 
elevator and I got on.  The doors closed and I pressed the down button and
nothing happened.  I pressed the up button and nothing happened.  I 
pressed the open doors button and the doors opened and I got off and 
pressed the down button from the outside.  The doors closed and didn't 
open back up.  So I was stuck at the top of a mountain.  After about 20 
minutes, a maintenance man arrived and spent some time opening and closing
the elevator doors.  After a bit, he started loading heavy weights onto 
the elevator.  He then had us get on the elevator and we coasted down to 
the bottom.  I was greatful to get down from there.  I had a cup of hot 
chocolate with a viewing of the ski area and dethawed.  Afterwards I went
to the ice palace.  It wasn't as impressive or fun as the one at
Jungfraujoch.  They had rubber matting on the ground so you didn't slide
around.  A musical version of "How Great Thou Art" was playing over the
speakers, which was weird.  I took the lift back down to the lower
station, Frockenersee, and made my way down to the lake (no trail) and had
some nice views of the Matterhorn.  I then went all the way back down and
then up to Schwatzsee and had "lunch" at the lake (a roll with Nutella (a
hazelnut-chocolate spread that is popular there)).  I then started my
stupid hike towards the Matterhorn.  The views were awesome, but the hike
was suicidal.  The trail was nice and reasonable for about the first hour,
going up the whole way.  Then came the ice.  I kept thinking I was stupid
to continue onward on the slopping up ice and rocks and nearly chickened 
out 5 times, but kept finding myself moving forward.  The 3rd time I 
nearly chickened out, I was wishing that I had been smart and chickened 
out the first time.  But I still continued onward and eventually reached 
the Hornlihutte - an overnight resting spot for those who were going to 
climb the Matterhorn.  The views were stunning and I was not only right 
next to the Matterhorn, but on part of the distinctive peak.  I stayed 
there enjoying the views for a little while, known the horror that was 
ahead of me.  I took it very slow and careful coming back down on the ice 
and even then still slipped 5 times (and had a big bruise on my rear for 2
weeks).  I even got down on my rear a few times and shuffled down some of
the steeper parts and corners.  I finally got passed the ice area and said
a small prayer of thanks and continued back to the lift to finish my 4
hour hike.  I had originally planned on hiking all the way back down to 
Zermatt, but after torturing my body and nerves with that hike, I decided 
to be nice and take the lift back down.  When talking about that hike, I
refer to it as my suicide hike.

Day 13, Saturday September 27
I started the morning off by taking the train up to Gornergrat, a
different area of the mountain range, enjoyed the morning mountain views,
and started my long hike down.  I walked passed a couple of small lakes
in the open brown mountains (above the tree line) and headed down to a
lower lake just below the tree line and had lunch (another Nutella
sandwich).  My hike then went through the woods and along a stream for a
nice couple of hours hike.  I ended it at a train station and went back up
to Rotenbaden (on the way to Gornergrat) and walked 20 minutes down to a
lake for nice views of the Matterhorn [the Matterhorn is part of a range,
but none of the other mountains are right next to it and it's unique
formation makes it the most distinct mountain in the range].  I then went
back down to Zermatt, enjoyed a pretzel roll and a nut roll, took a short
lift up, and had a blah hike back down to end the day.

Day 14, Sunday September 28
The morning started with a train ride back to my car and a long slow (stuck
behind a bus [which actually turned out to be a good thing, but I won't go 
into that bit of sadness]) drive back to the autobahn.  I drove by the
medieval castles in Zion, but didn't stop as I couldn't find the parking 
area and my patience was a bit low.  I drove on and then made a detour to 
Avenches to visit a real old site.  Avenches was once the town of Aventicum,
Roman capital of Helvetica.  I visited the ancient 15,000 seat Roman
amphitheater, built around 72 AD.  Wow.  I was in awe walking around the
seats and then down to the floor thinking about how much history was here.
I also walked for a little bit around the town of Avenches to look at some 
of their more recent buildings - a castle from the 13th century and and 
church from the early 1700s.  My drive continued on and I had nothing 
further planned and time to kill.  I saw a castle from the autobahn and 
pulled off and drove up to it on a whim.  The Neu-Bechburg was not open to 
tour, but I walked around the 15th century castle.  I found a McDonalds 
(yeah!) and had a late lunch (2:30) and headed on to Zurich.  For the first
time of my trip, I encountered traffic as I neared the old town area - 
where my hotel was.  I had lots of fun with the traffic and the road I 
needed being closed to vehicles for the day.  After a couple of long
detours and u-turns I eventually stumbled upon my hotel and checked in.  I
then headed out in the rain for an hour of walking around and looking at 
some of the architecture and getting soaked.  I stopped briefly in one 
church that was open and admired the pretty stain glass window.  After 
walking around some more, I headed back to my hotel to dry off and pack 
for the flight home.

Day 15, Monday September 29
I headed out early (as I did every day of the trip) and had a lovely day of
airports and planes - not.  I highly recommend avoiding the Paris airport at
all costs as it's just a pain in the neck and very difficult to find your
way around.  The one bright spot of the day was looking out the window of
the plane and seeing a circular rainbow on a cloud - the blue and purple 
weren't visible, but the red, orange, and yellow were.  I've never seen one 
before and was quite thrilled.  I went to bed early when I got home.  I 
couldn't wait until 11 am arrived the next day and I ordered a large cheese


Patricia Bender
Not affiliated with or representing anyone besides myself.