21st Year Eurotrip: Lucerne, Switzerland

February 13, 2017

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I'm Helena!

A sunny gal from Cali living in the south of France. I adore slow living, magic, and celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I’m a self-proclaimed Disney nerd (as is my husband!), obsessed with cats and cocoa, and you can often find me swimming with the fishies in the salty sea. Come along and enjoy the magic, the simple joys of life with me...



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After 6 weeks of trekking Europe by myself, guess who met up with me? My boyfriend, Alex! I had been planning on doing a solo backpacking trip for years, but when Alex thought it would be a cool idea if he tagged along near the end of my trip, I (although hesitant at first) jumped at the opportunity to have a significant other join me. I mean, come on, when would this ever happen again?
Alex speaks 3 other languages besides English: French, German, and Spanish. I was already worried about not speaking French when I made my way up to France and after exploring Germany and not being to speak much to the people in Hamburg, I thought it might be helpful. Alex also grew up in Paris for 6 years and in Vienna during his teenage years, and he had planned on going back to his roots for sometime now, and this just happened to make for a great opportunity to do it! So, on August 4, after Alex taught English in China for a month and I backpacked Europe, we decided to make our meeting spot in Lucerne, Switzerland. Here’s how it went down.

I arrived at Bahnhof Luzern station after a long 5 hour train ride from Milan. Feeling groggy in my sweat pants and t-shirt, I got off the train and skipped to the nearest restroom to change into my new dress. Alex is coming today! Alex is coming today! I cheerfully sang in my head, as I applied some mascara. After long daily emails sent to and from Alex (we spoke once over Skype), I was starting to forget what his voice sounded like. And with the time difference between China and Europe, some days we didn’t get to email and give each other updates. It didn’t feel like too much time had passed, as the time had flown by while I was backpacking and moving around from city to city each day. But still, it can be hard! So you can imagine how excited I was to see my boyfriend at last! That morning I woke up in Milan, I literally jumped out of bed and smiled, as I danced in the shower. “NO MORE EMAILS!!! HALLELUJAH!”
I strolled past the train station and admired the beautiful wooden footbridge Kapellbrücke, spanning diagonally across the Reuss River. I observed the birds and swans swimming in the water and nibbling on bread that the tourists threw them and even talked with a few people from Spain. “30 MINUTES till Alex gets here!” I thought, excitedly. When Alex sent me an email saying it would be another 30 minutes, due to train delays, before he arrived, I decided to stop at the hotel that we had planned to stay at and drop off my heavy backpack.

Hotel Schlussel

Key Hotel.  Super quaint, picturesque, and a beautiful view from the room. I dropped off my bag, grabbed a snack at a nearby grocery store, went back to the train station and waited.

I was hoping for a great, romantic, movie-worthy train station meeting.
When Alex emailed saying he was at the hotel, I raced back and met up with him in the room. The receptionist gave me the room number, I bounded up the stairs, and knocked on the door. THERE HE WAS!
One thing I was surprised to find when I met up with Alex was how I’d forgotten his facial expressions. It’s only been 6 weeks, how could I forget that? I was also surprised at how MUCH I missed him. I missed him a lot already, but when you’re finally reunited physically in the same space as your partner, you realize you’ve missed them so much more.We admired the beautiful room, the view from the window, and headed out to go see the sights! With only one day/evening in Lucerne, we wanted to make the most of it!
Sending Alex’s parents a text thanking them for paying for the hotel!!
We took a beautiful scenic stroll along the rapidly moving Reuss River on Reusssteg street, catching up as if no time had passed and slowly enjoyed the beautiful Kapellbrücke footbridge, with all of it’s brightly colored flowers lining the edges. Bright green and pinks and whites and purples. It felt like spring!
Why is the bridge so much more beautiful when Alex is around? I kept wondering. I already saw the beautiful bridge when I got off of the train! Why is it any different? Something I began to think about during my trip backpacking Europe with Alex was how different and special backpacking with someone you care about is versus backpacking alone.
I love traveling by myself. The freedom and independence I have during my solo trips is something I cherish very much (not to mention, the amount of people and friends you make when you’re traveling solo!), but it is so much more special when your partner is marveling in awe at all the beauty alongside you.It really makes all the difference.
Having someone I know and care about standing next to me and taking in the same experience…it’s priceless. We have memories together. I may have a lot of incredible memories traveling solo, but to have someone with me who I can turn to and say, “remember when we rode that gondola in Venice?” That is the difference.  We’ve shared memories, emotions, and adventures that we can always talk about and reminisce on. It’s not the same when you’re traveling alone. You only have your own memories and journal entries. But as Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild, once wrote…”Happiness is only real when shared.” Experiencing something alone doesn’t come close to sharing an experience. And I had to experience backpacking Europe both ways before I truly understood that.
After our sight seeing tour of Lucerne, we got dinner on a BOAT. A giant, magnificent boat called the Wilhelm Tell.
It was pretty expensive, so we bought less-expensive items on the menu.OH and the bees!!! Be careful of the bees! They will follow your soda/drink everywhere in Switzerland.
Sitting alongside the river, feeding bread to the pretty swans…prior to this, Alex and I grabbed some groceries at the market to save money and start packing our lunches. Alex, eventually, began to hate the idea of buying plain bread and cheese so we gave some of it to the swans around us. I, on the other hand, have a high level of tolerance for eating cheap food after backpacking and packing lunches in Europe the month prior, so for me, it wasn’t a big deal.
TIP: If you want to save money and stick to a budget while backpacking, go to the market and pack lunches. (Bread, cheeses, meats, jams, vegetables, fruits, chips, etc.) I saved a ton of money that way and came back to the states with more money than I had planned on. 
Night stroll in Lucerne….what a beautiful, magical city! It’s even prettier in the evening with all the lights.
After a full day and night adventuring Lucerne, we checked out of our hotel, and hopped on the next train to Munich, Germany! With Alex’s new green backpack in tow, I showed him how to pack and adjust the straps on his backpack and off we went!

Your Turn!
Have you ever backpacked with a partner? (friend, significant other, family member)? How did it compare to traveling solo? Write your comments below! Would love it if you would share my blog post to your travel-loving friends using the social media buttons below!

Some images from my photo diary…

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I'm Helena, your new kindred spirit.

Sunny free-spirit, writer and creator in love with documenting the simple joys of life. I am passionate about noticing light and truth around me and reflecting it back to others.

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