Monday, October 5, 2015

Mountain Lakes & Dalai Lama in the Park

Lake Oeschinen

This weekend, Megan & I decided to take a trip to the mountains.  We whimsically sat at our computers googling/pinteresting images, until we found this image. And when you live in Switzerland, if you find a place you want to go to, you just do it. 

We took about a 3 hour train ride to Kandersteg, an amazing little town in the valley of an incredible & huge mountain range, the Bernese Oberland. Before getting there, we got lost.  It turns out that some trains actually split in half, then go opposite directions.  We were on the wrong half.  There were two women sitting next to us speaking German.  We hesitantly whispered back and forth, "should we ask them?" "where are we?" "what's going on?"

Finally, I resorted to asking the lady sitting next to me... "Parlez-vous anglais?" soo..I asked a German woman if she spoke English in French. 
*face palm*

We ended up finding our way. 

Above is a photo of a little church in the town.  The leaves were beginning to change colors and we stopped several times without speaking just looking up towards the mountains and feeling the season change. 

 When we first got up to the mountain, this is what we saw.  It brought tears to my eyes instantly.  It looked like a painting.  Everything was so still and calm.  I don't think Megan or I finished a single sentence for the first 20 minutes we were on top of the mountain. It was all, "oh my" "what" "how is this" "I don't.."; there were no words.

It looked as if God had placed his index finger in the middle of the mountain and like Moses parting the seas, the mountains had shifted in response.  I couldn't believe this is earth.  This is the ground we touch, the ground we feel.  The earth is so magnificent.  It is shifting, changing, molding.  There is no stagnancy in its existence. 

We began hiking towards the lake.  There were all kinds of mountains on all sides of us.  We walked towards beautiful, expansive snow peaked mountains. 

The earth was shifting slowly and calmly into new colors, new foliage, new sounds. But it felt calm and mellow and everything was at peace. There was an erie stillness.  The sun shone perfectly through the trees so you could see a couple small insects floating almost too slowly through the trees.  It was some other land.  It was mystical and magical and there are absolutely no words. The trees were tall and it was difficult to feel anything but irrevocably small.

Then we arrived at the lake..

We sat on a rock by the crystal clear, blue water and ate avocados and sandwiches.  We talked about family and friends and things that made us happy.  We talked about things that made us sad.  We discussed how we couldn't believe we found each other.  Megan is so calming.  Not only is she my ray of sunshine, but she soothes me in a way I haven't experienced often in my life.  She listens so intently and shapes the things she says around your perception.  She's so insanely intelligent and can't say anything but kind words.  She's the most pure form of positivity there is.  I love to talk about religion and philosophy and life with her.  If there is any legitimacy to the phrase an "old soul", she is the closest thing to it.  She teaches me, not just because of the things she reads, but because of the way she is.  She is a tool to find goodness.  Everyone should have a friend like Megan in their life. I can't believe I found her.

We hiked further up the mountain and it only got more and more beautiful.  We were joyously intoxicated by the earth's beauty. We laughed and were loud and silly, alone climbing a gloriously magnificent mountain.  I indulged in so much friendship this day. 


That night, we caught a late night train to Lucerne, a beautiful city of about 79,000 people. It sits amid beautiful snowcapped mountains and is the epitome of a storybook swiss town. It had covered bridges, markets, and beautiful architecture. 
We got there at 9 o'clock and began walking, but we soon realized our hostel was a little bit outside of the city. We began to enter a less lit, less populated area and we could feel ourselves walking a little quicker.  It sucks, we realized.  Had we been there with the guys, we never would have thought twice.  It wouldn't have even been a concern, but as two young girls walking late at night in another country, it was scary.  It sucks that in the safest country in the world, I still feel threatened as a result of my womanhood.

We found our hostel and it was a very hip, quaint place with good music and comfy sofas. We settled in for the night and ended up discussing politics with a backpacker from South Africa for about 2 hours.
The next morning we ventured out into the city.

We shopped in the markets and people watched until finding some Lebanese food.

Then we went to find a very famous memorial in Lucerne the "Lion of Lucerne".  It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. Mark Twain once called it "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world." 

We sat on the ledge to finish our ice cream and to avoid the crowds and Megan pointed out how all the tourists were smiling, taking pictures with this memorial.  She said, its weird, right? This was a memorial for people who had died.  Real people who lost their lives.  But since it wasn't their country and it wasn't in the last 100 years, we think it's some tourist attractive to be smiled with and to be "seen". Why do we discredit the severity of death just because it wasn't recent? It still happened. People still died.  Nothing is different except how we are affected, but since when is a memorial about us??

When I looked at the memorial, really looked at it, it was so so sad. I've never seen any kind of art encapsulate sadness like this did. Mark Twain was right.

Then we went to a Jesuit church; it was the most beautiful church I have ever set foot in.

Traveling can be hard.  Planning can be stressful. Busy cities can be overwhelming. 

But friends are always good.  Parks are always a good place for a nap.  Music will always soothe the soul.  Sunshine will always give renewal. Ice cream will always taste yummy.

We found a park next to the lake.  With the mountains behind us, clear water in front of us, and a blue sky above us, we laid down for a nap.  I played Explosions in the Sky on repeat and we both fell asleep within minutes.  When we came to 30 or so minutes later, I laid on Megan and we read the Dalai Lama's How to practice the way to a meaningful life. We contemplated what it meant to truly replace anger with love/compassion and how to go about affecting people on a global scale through teaching knowledge.  Filling holes with knowledge and people with understanding. I was so perfectly content.  It was such a perfect Megan & Haley weekend, with both of us working on exactly the same wave length the whole time.