Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Loving Memory of Tequilla Shirt

Once again, I've missed a week. But with good reason. I took a mid-week vacation to Spain!


Getting back to the chronological order of things, I need to go back to two weeks ago. Mike and I decided it would be a good idea to make a giant beer bong in the apartment. A permanent one running from the loft (my room) to the main level. So we went to Jumbo and got supplies on Wednesday night and set it up. Naturally, Thursday night was a night of christening the Hulk (named due to the green watering jug we used for a funnel and the fact that it has wicked power). Needless to say, Friday at work was just terrible. Friday night was pretty chill, going over to Liam's for some epic guitar hero.


On the weekend, Bruce planned out a nice hike along a big gorge in French Switzerland. So that's where we went on Saturday morning. The hike was supposed to be 23km or so, but when we got about an hour into the hike, the trail became closed and we had to take a detour. In the end, we walked an estimated 30km. It was pushing my happy limit...

We were supposed to camp that night in Neuchatel but we got to the train station too late to make the campground before final check-in time, so we went back to Baden.

Sunday, I can't remember if anything happened, so it's safe to assume that nothing happened. Maybe a movie...


During last week, the crazy began. Monday was a super productive day at work, mainly because I have to get a whole bunch done for Tuesday morning and I didn't expect Friday to be very good. As usual I suppose... Monday night, Chris and I got our stuff ready, said goodbye to Riley (who was headed back home to Toronto), and went off to the train station to meet up with Phil and go to the EuroAirport. Before we get into details here, there is one very important ideal we were living by on this trip: Be Hobos. We had no places planned for sleeping and were fully prepared to sink to new lows. Now, back to the story. Our flight didn't leave until Tuesday, but it was so early that we couldn't use public transport to get to the airport in time. So we G7'ed it there for free the night prior and slept on some benches.

<--- Said benches (sleeping location I)

For anyone out there wondering if the EuroAirport is a good place to sleep, the answer is no unless you have earplugs. Especially right now with Schwein Grippe and all... Announcements about safe baggage and Swine Flu were on every 20 minutes (each, and offset). Hence there was an annoying announcement every 10 minutes. Hence the earplug recommendation.


We awoke tired as hell, but ready for a ridiculous trip. We had to be ready, because it was going to be ridiculous whether we were ready for it or not.

We got on the airplane for Alicante and Chris and I passed out almost immediately. In fact, Chris slept through takeoff. Easyjet seats are pretty comfortable (sleeping location II).

When we arrived in Alicante, we weren't sure where to go but we knew we wouldn't be taking a train to Valencia for a 7 hours so we went toward a giant castle on a mountain. on our way, we found a beautiful beach with sand that had the consistency of flour (soooooo nice but gets absolutely everywhere). The water was nice and cool in the warm Spanish air. It was still the morning, and the heat was just beginning.

We made our way to the castle on the mountain, finding a tunnel into the rock that looked like it potentially had stairs to the top. It didn't. It had an elevator to the top, but it wasn't free. So we walked out and followed the street around the mountain. Eventually we made it up to the top. But before we did, we passed a funny old guy. When most people stare, they will look away and act like they were doing otherwise when they are caught. This guy didn't. We was staring at me so much, I turned around and looked him right in the eye. And he just kept on staring! I don't think he was very appreciative of my haircut. And he wanted me to know it...

<--- Me, looking like a retard in stupid green EuroShorts.

In my defense, I bought those shorts so they would last for 3 hours and would then be tossed into a dumpster. You'll see what I mean soon.

The castle was pretty cool and had a great view of the beach, port, and the city.

Once we became bored with the castle and being under direct sunlight, we headed down the mountain toward the train station to buy our tickets. On the way, Chris pointed out a large building on our right that was under restoration outside. We checked it out and the sign outside said library. We felt like going in, so we did. As it turns out, the "library" was actually a huge flea market where you could buy an obscene amount of meat, fish, and produce. We hadn't eaten lunch, so we decided to buy some plums and nectarines. We had to buy by the 1/2kg, so I wound up with a half kilo of yellow plums and it only costed me 0.40Eu. Why the hell can't Switzerland be that cheap?

After getting to the train station and buying tickets to Alicante, we had some 3 hours to waste before the train was departing. We were also tired and didn't want to spend a whole bunch of time in the hot mid-day sun. There was only one solution. SIESTA!

<--- Park between two streets (sleeping location III)

We slept on the grass, across the path from two actual hobos. We learn fast! When we woke up, two other travellers were also doing the same. Not only do we learn fast, we are also trend setters!

After our nap, I decided I was too hungry to wait until we got to Valencia to eat supper. So I went to find the bakery we had come across earlier that day. It was closed. But as if by an act of God, Subway was across the street. And it was open. That is the first time I've eaten fast food in Europe since I got here (excluding the kebabs I have in Baden twice a week of course). It was great. And the guy behind the counter was super nice!

So bellies full, we took the train to Valencia. We passed out on the train (sleeping location IV).

After we arrived in Valencia, we found out when the last train went to Bunol and went hunting for a restaurant. It was still fairly early by Spaniard time (20:00), so we found a table fairly quickly and ordered a beer and paella. Neither was very good, but it was better than going hungry. We then went back to the train station and put all of our valuables in a locker. In the end, we were down to the cloths we were wearing, a waterproof disposable camera, and enough money to make it back to Valencia. We then took a train to Bunol, home of the annual festival La Tomatina.

Upon arrival, we immediately tried to scope out a nice flat and hidden place to sleep. That didn't really work... We found a large hill and decided it was a good place, so we climbed and climbed and climbed. At the top, we realized that it was a garbage dump, which explained why it didn't smell very nice. We ditched that idea and wandered some more. We ended up finding a park in the middle of town, with some flat concrete that would have to suffice for the purposes of sleeping (sleeping location V).

For a country known for being hot in the summer, it was damn cold overnight. The reason I come to this is because I would like to point out the thought process of an engineer. We all got cold, and we all shimmied away from the ledge toward a small "wall" (ie the vertical part of a step about half a meter tall) to minimize the affect of the breeze. To solve the problem of a pillow, Chris and Phil used their water bottles. I was just too stupid for that. Then to solve the further cold of the night, we each had our own solutions. Chris analyzed and remembered that you lose most of your head from your head. So he tied a bag around the top of his head like a toque. He also put his foot through a plastic bag to utilize it as a long sock. Phil used a larger bag and simply put both feet in and pulled the sides up as far as they would go without breaking the bag. I, on the other hand had no such bag material. So I did as small children do and put my arms inside my shirt and pulled the shirt around my legs and slept in a fetal position.

It was a very sleepless night, especially with the DJ over the hill cranking up the bass every time the party started dying (probably due to him using the same beat over and over). That being said, a van managed to pull up in the middle of the night without any of us noticing... It blows my mind how that happened.


We awoke, sore and deathly tired, but ready for a red tomatoey massacre. We hid our duct tape backpack in a rock crevice and went toward town hall. On the way, I picked up a breakfast sandwich and a refreshing beverage. I had a bacon and cheese sandwich with a beer for breakfast. If that isn't a breakfast of champions, I have no idea what is. We met up with the rest of the Canadian interns near the grease pole, which was at the moment just a long, very well sanded wooden pole sitting on the ground.

The clock struck 9:00, and the people in charge of the grease pole pulled out the buckets of soapy water and lard. They applied the greasy concoction with great vigor, and pushed the pole into its final resting place, a hole in the ground that normally has a cover on it. They pushed a whole bunch of wooden wedges down the hole to make the pole remain steady, and the Spanish Ham up a Greasy Pole event commenced. The goal of this event is for someone (generally using teamwork) to climb up the 50ft greased pole and cut a chunk off the Spanish ham attatched to the top. Shannon and Bianca were climbing before any of the other Canadians, but I wasn't far behind. I got some assistance from a burly Aussie behind me and a few guys bent over in front of me so I could walk on them. I got to the pole and didn't get far up at all, but at least I can officially say that I took part in the spectacle!

After two hours of failed attempts at reaching the ham, the alarms went off and the main event began. Stupid green EuroShorts, Tequila Shirt, crappy EuroShoes that I bought off Pat for 5CHF, and ski goggles in place, I was ready for the worst. The trucks rolled into the busy streets, with people up top chucking their acidic ammunition in all directions. Within moments of being within range, you are hit in the face with tomatoes and the whole world goes red. The thirst for blood was upon you (not really, but it sounded pretty cool like that didn't it?).

Sometimes, you were lucky enough that the truck dumped their load in front of your feet, leaving you with a lot of tomatoes to throw and an endless number of heads in both directions. I managed to end up backed against a metal door, with a tomato truck stopped directly in front of me for quite some time. I cleverly held one arm up to protect my face and used the other one to catch the tomatoes dropping down after hitting me. I also learned of the glory of being behind a solid wall. Everything that missed me sat directly below, leaving a lot of throwable objects within easy reach. I also squeezed the already broken tomatoes on to peoples heads in front of me, but you couldn't do that with the solid ones. They were too perfect for a head shot 10 feet away.

After one hour of all out battle, the horn sounded to end the fight and become civilized people again. That's when trouble started. Walking back, I was approached by a gleeful local who decided that I shouldn't be wearing a shirt. Now by all means, he was correct. It was stupid to be wearing a shirt and it was very disgusting, but I required a shirt to get on the train back to Valencia. So I told him no. He didn't like that answer. He tried anyway but I wasn't about to allow that to happen. Needless to say, I had a tussle with a Spaniard and learnt that they have short tempers!

I met back up with the rest of the Canadians (who I had lost prior to the fight) and we went to the train station. Prior to boarding, passengers had to be deemed "clean", so I went to the provided showers and cleaned the main chunks off of my clothing. Surprisingly, my shorts survived the experience quite well. They didn't get stained at all! On to Valencia!

Valencia. We decided to meet at the beach, so Chris, Phil, and I grabbed our stuff and took a bus to the ocean while the others went to their hotel to change and clean up. Arriving at the beach (after screwing up and getting off the bus too early), I proceeded to take off the now tomatified Tequila Shirt and threw it in the garbage.


I would like to take a moment of silence for Tequila Shirt.


Luke pointed out that it defined me and that we had very good times together.



Oh Tequila Shirt, I will miss thee so. Finding your replacement will be a challenging task.



Proceeding to the waters edge, Phil and I ran in and cleaned off. No more tomato in the ears, no more tomato in the hair, no more tomato residue on the skin. It was heavenly. We then went on to the sand and I proceeded to lay directly on the beach (due to my neglecting to bring a towel). I also briefly slept (sleeping location VI).

The rest of the Canucks arrived and we moved down the beach toward them, but we didn't stay long. Soon we left and searched for a restaurant. We ended up at a relatively classy restaurant with a moronic waiter. The three of us had purchased lunch at a supermarket earlier, so we ordered drinks and Phil and I attempted to order dessert. No go. Schmuck. So we settled on a Cola. At the table, had some good conversation and all that while people ate. I was still hoping dessert would be a go after the meals, but the waiter rushed us the bill (they do that in Europe?). He had managed to forget an appetizer (which had been pointed out to him earlier), and still charged it on the bill. Schmuck. Good thing Luke called him on it.

After the meal, the main group was headed back to the hotel after an exhausting day. We didn't want to sleep on the street or the beach that night, so we opted to go to the train station and search for a hostel in the vicinity. We didn't have to search long, regardless of the city being packed from Tomatina. San Jose Hostel is a savior (sleeping location VII).

<--- Two very happy travellers.

Nights away from Baden: 3
Total cost for accommodations per individual: 20Eu

Lol...


On Thursday, we awoke early to catch the cheap train to Alicante. Guess what we did on the train. We slept! (sleeping location VIII)

Arriving in Alicante, we explored Old Town and ended up at a little cafe and ordered Churros. They were awesome. I had iced coffee with it, which was also fantastic. We then went to the beach and relaxed and went swimming for around an hour before we had to catch the bus to the airport.


On the flight, we once again slept (sleeping location IX). The funny part of the flight was touching down. The wheels touched down and an amusing tune came on over the intercom. Everyone cheered. I'm assuming they were all just super happy that the Ryan Air plane didn't fall apart... Just for the record, Ryan Air plays that tune at every touchdown. I just thought it was really amusing.

Jumping ahead, we got home and I called Dave up. I figured he'd be lonely with his two roommates being gone in Spain. We watched a really funny movie called Lesbian Vampire Killers. Gotta love low budget British films.


Friday was a pretty bad day at work, but not excessively so. A group of us went to see Inglorious Bastards at the local theater. It was amazing. See it. "Each and every one of you owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps."


Saturday, Mike, Chan, Arthur, and I went to Biel/Bienne for a day trip. As it turns out, there was an international festival that weekend there. I swear, there is always something cool going on wherever we go. Why can't Canada have cool festivals ALL the time?


Sunday was a lazy day which included a trip to the Schwimmbad. The first time in quite some time, and possibly one of the last times. The season is coming to an end rather quickly. In fact, summer is pretty much over... That's disappointing.


Parting words. La Tomatina is amazing, but I never want to do it again. Once is enough. In fact, I would like to never be that messy or grungy ever again. Unless its another major festival I need to check off the list.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Of Dancing, Mockery, and More Dancing

So apparently I managed to miss a week... It was a rather busy one last week I guess, with my life spiralling out of control and all...


Two weeks ago seems so long ago, and yet it was so amazing. It is called Street Parade. It is the biggest party in all of Switzerland for the entire year. And it happens in Zürich. And it is AMAZING!!! It consists of a great many people, most of whom are drunk, high, and/or nearly (in some rare cases completely) naked partying in the streets of Zürich in a giant parade of electronic music. I took no part in none of that, except for the dancing. I was a dancing fiend. But before I get too ahead of myself, lets go back to the morning.

I definitely woke up and decided I wanted a Mohawk. Celia was happy to oblige. I now have a Mohawk. The end.

I also put on face paint and had a giant heart on my neck. And an anchor on the other side, because skeletons are cool but were too hard to draw. Haha oh Rachel...

So yah, STREET PARADE! Got to Zürich around 15:00, got lost with Andrew and Ryan rather quickly and just danced up a storm. Then we got pizza. Then we danced some more! Next thing we know, it is something like 22:00 and Paul van Dyk is supposed to come on the main stage in half an hour. Waiting. Waiting... Waiting... He cancelled and some other DJ shows up.
I missed half of Guetta for you Paul, and you bailed. I am not happy with you. Not happy at all...

<-- Picture taken before I became displeased with PvD

After I realized PvD wasn't playing, I rushed off to the Zürich Hbf to get over the the Hallenstadion, where the biggest afterparty in Zürich was taking place. ENERGY 2009!!!!!!!! On the way, I met some Swiss guys calling me, due to my name being written on my head in a Sharpie. Thankyou Riley, for not being an ass and writing something else on my head. This happened the morning of Street Parade, and yes, whether you believe me or not, I was sober. In fact, I had been paranoid people were calling me all day. Now I know I'm not paranoid. They actually were. Anyway, back to Hallenstadion.

<-- Steve happy at ENERGY 2009!!!!!

I made it for half of David Guetta, loved it. Absolutely amazing... Wicked atmosphere with so much energy. Then Tiesto came on and rocked the entire universe.







<-- Tiesto rocking the entire universe

Then Fedde le Grande was up, and he wasn't quite up to expectations. He was definitely good, but not Tiesto good. So I sat down in the bleachers and had a 20 minute power-nap.

Summary of the Zürich Street Parade:
Mohawk. Face paint. Music (throughout). Dance. Get rained on and get paint all over my shirt. Dance. Get lost. Dance. Dance more. Eat Pizza. Dance. Dance more. Get mad at PvD. Meet funny Swiss guys on the way to Hbf. Realize I'm not crazy, just retarded. Go to Hallenstadion. Love my life sooooooo much. Dance. Dance more. Dance even more. Redbull. Dance. Dance more. Dance more. 20 minute power-nap. Dance. Stagger home in a tired, sweaty mess. Happy. Home at 8:00 Sunday morning. So happy.

What a ridiculous life I have over here.


During the week, oh God... Sunday night we had a BBQ. I woke up at 16:30 and had an hour to make burger patties and prepare myself for a walk up a mountain. We walked up a mountain and had a hell of a time starting the charcoals on fire. The obvious solution was definitely to use excessive amounts of lighter fluid. It worked after a while. We had burgers and they were amazing. I also caught a frog and almost caught a snake. I named the frog Kermit. Original, I know. Give me a break, it was a long night prior.

Tuesday was the last night for Riley in Baden that would start sober, so naturally, we did a beer mile. In Canada, you'd be hunted down by people and thrown out of the track when doing this most awesome of sporting events. In Switzerland, you get cheered on by EVERYONE at the track. And this was a very public beer mile. Long story short, my time was 9:19 and I came in second for the event. Bruce destroyed everyone as expected, but I can proudly come second to him. Pictures will be on facebook soon if you are interested. I will say no more of the beer mile. If you are actually curious about it, I'm sure that Google would be more than happy to oblige.

Wednesday was Riley's final day at Alstom. I cannot declare what happened that day due to the fact that this blog is public and my boss could read it. So I will just say that it was a day that changed the way I see work. Forever. Then we went to the Biergarten, and I ignored the fact that I desperately needed to do laundry. A few of us ended up on the castle, and tried to watch a meteor shower. They didn't happen.

Thursday and Friday consisted of movie nights, being The Soloist and Jurassic Park II. The Soloist was good. Don't ever waste you're time watching Jurassic Park II. It was just awful. How could I have thought that movie was good years back? Saturday. Liechtenstein. Their national day, my chance at mockery of epic proportions. I can't remember if I have explained the story of this trip planning or not, so I'll just indulge you once again. One Friday, Mike and I thought it would be funny to just go to Liechtenstein for a day just out of boredom. That afternoon we had decided it would be funny to walk across the country in a day. In a matter of a few days, we had decided to run across it. Now you know how everything here escalates on such a grand scale.

I repeat, my life here is just so ridiculous...

So we were going to run across the country. I mapped out a route that ended up being 12.3km (that's right, and its not even going the short distance, that's going out of our way to make it longer so no one can question the validity of our claims). We took a bus to the Austrian border and prepared.

<-- Look Austria!

Riley, Bruce, and Chris made the whole run. I lacked motivation and Mike and I took a little longer but still jogged more than half the distance. I could probably put some blame on the fact that I was running in skateshoes and it was over 30°C outside, but I will stick with blaming myself. Also, we may or may not have taken a shortcut through a cornfield. That detail will never be official. The finish line was a covered wooden pedestrian bridge over the Rhine, and it took something like 1:40 to make it across. Check out a map on google from the Austrian border between Feldkirch and Shaanwald to a bridge across the Rhine just west of Vaduz if you're a nonbeliever. It was done. 12.3km. How many people do you know that can claim to have ran across an entire country besides Terry Fox?

Just as a side note, you know you're in a small country when the sign pointing in the direction of a town doesn't bother to have the distance included on the sign.

So we ended the run and got some greasy food and beer and danced. Until late. Some cover band was playing and it was the first time I had heard rock or punk in over 3 months. We went nuts. Mike, Pat, and I also had the most public 'gun of our lives. Again, end of story. There were also fireworks being fired from the top of a mountain. They even surpassed the epicity of the Lugano fireworks on Swiss national day. What else can you expect form a country with the highest GDP per capita in the world?

Some time later and taking the bus to the campground 15 minutes out of town, people must have just thought I was the biggest mess in the world. Grungy Mohawk, sweaty, and overall not at 100%. Probably more like at 30%. If that. Getting off the bus in the middle of nowhere alone. I wonder how many people on this continent just think I am on the final leg of one messed up life.... Hahaha oh to ponder... I love this place so much. I was so unmotivated about walking up the hill to the campsite that I seriously considered sleeping in a field. I realized I would probably wake up a few hours later regretting that decision, so I carried on. But not all the way. I needed to do a pitstop and stop in the middle of the road and lay down to look at the stars. It's a good thing no one decided to drive around the campground at 1:00...

Liechtenstein is my favorite country so far. It is like Switzerland except I can buy food at a real grocery store on Sundays and they like having fun.


Sunday, a slow morning getting up and ready to leave. Very slow. We eventually packed our stuff up and went hiking to Sargans, back in Switzerland. I have no idea how far it was, but it was really hot. And I can also safely say that apart from one town and the backs of 3 mountains, I have seen the entire country of Liechtenstein. We dipped our feet in the ice cold Rhine, which was amazing given the heat. We also slept in the shade under a bridge. 8 Canadians. Under a bridge. Sleeping. So funny...

<-- This is literally the border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The photo quality on here isn't great, but it says Liechtenstein (on the left) and Schweiz (on the right). Talk about tight border controls. Ease up guys! Holy...

Mike and I waited in Sargans for a while until we could take free trains. The rest were crazy and spent money. We saw Riley briefly on his way to Croatia.


My legs are ridiculously sore now. And I am officially never running again. Ever. Unless someone plans a trip to run across another country like Luxembourg or something... Is Luxembourg small enough to run across?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Best Weekend EVER

I don't even know where to begin. Maybe Friday? I cannot remember anything before Friday night, other than Friday during work in which is was ridiculously unmotivated and it is safe to say that it was the least productive day at Alstom yet. And it's not like I had nothing to do either...



Anyway, Friday night...

After work, Mike and I went to Manor to buy us some fireworks, the only time of year that you can buy them and the only time of year it is legal to set them off. And people did light them. Everywhere. But I'll get into that later.

In the evening, a bunch of us went to the castle to meet the newest Interns. He had a few beer, light some bottlerockets and smokebombs, and just had a jolly ol' time. Tragically, it was an early night because we had to be on the train early Saturday morning to get to southern Switzerland. But before leaving, we watched people at the bar by the train station light fireworks from the patio and aim them across the tracks, probably at people.


Saturday. Early. Very early. How early? 6:00 early. Just to get a feel for how early that is, I get up at 8:00 for work. On weekdays. This weekend had better be worth it, because it was off to a not so great start... That changed rather quickly. Someone pointed out the most important garbage can/ashtray in the world. I'll nab a picture one day. Took the train to Airolo where we rented bikes and started an epic cycling trip. It should be pointed out that this was a planned weekend with IAESTE, so there was no planning whatsoever on my side apart from signing up for it and having money in my wallet.

Cycling. I would call it peddle-biking, but peddling would be the wrong word because 80% of the trip was downhill. And 15% of it was flat, but still coasting from a previous downhill part. Not the most exhausting experience. Which was a good thing. I managed to crash into a guardrail on a steep downhill part. It's the only accident I've been in where I was laughing going into it (knowing fully-well that I was about to hit something), laughing during the contact, and laughing afterward. I'm such a retard... Hahaha I'm still laughing about it.

As a side note, you know you are in Switzerland when the one time you decide to look at the Autobahn, you see a Ferrari go by. Cycling was broken up by frequent pit stops at generally nice locations with something to look at, and at a restaurant where we used their giant grill to have the biggest BBQ I've ever seen (minus the Stampede, you can't top a BBQ where thousands of rednecks congregate together like that).

When we got to the hostel in Lugano, we had an hour to shower and get ready to go out for the night. The Canadians decided it was a better idea to go to the pool. Every single one of us. We really are a peculiar nationality. Or maybe it's just chance that every one of us in the group are crazy. Who knows. In the end, it is irrelevant.

We went up a mountain to see Lake Lugano and the surrounding cities and towns. It was a really nice view, but something much more important occurred on that mountain top. We found a church that had stairs up to its roof. Atop this roof, a large group of us shotgunned beer in a race. The most important race of our lives. The winner had rights to be the first to jump the Verzasca Dam. More on that later. There is definitely a video of the gun posted on fb if you're interested. Damn you Bruce, why were you born to be a gunner? I was sooooooo close too... Then there's Riley, who was authentically pissed off about it. That in itself was worth the gun. Go Riley!

On to supper at a pizzeria restaurante. We had huge food, free wine (managed to choose the table upon which the ice bucket remained at) and watched a parade go by. The parade wasn't right there, but we heard explosions and we weren't being served, so a few of us deemed it acceptable to run to the next street and see it. There were actually a lot of explosions, and if I hadn't known it was Swiss National Day (and that I was in Switzerland), I'd have thought there was a small war going on. Fireworks went off at 10:30. I had just finished eating. I just booked it off to the lake without a care in the world. The organizers stopped me to try to decide on a good meeting place, but I just said come back to the piazza where the restaurant was, and ran off.

FIREWORKS!!! Everyone loves fireworks, but these were just amazing. I can't even explain, more free (terrible, but free) wine may be a contributing factor. The finale was so bright you could have read a newspaper. It was just shy of daylight. Afterward, we pulled out the bottlerockets and roman candles Mike and I had bought from Manor and had ourselves a joy of a time. We tried to blow up Mike's phone with bottlerockets, but only managed to damage the screen because we had no way of focusing the explosion on the phone instead of out of the open end of the plastic cups we had holding the two close together.
The roman candles on the other hand were a roaring success, as pictured here with Riley, Bruce and I firing them into the air while dancing. I'm also very sure this is how I managed to get burn marks on the back of my shirt. That and the really enthusiastic kid lighting fireworks beside us all night...

We managed to start a dance floor beside a random outdoor DJ on the walkway beside the lake, IAESTE people being the only people dancing and the Swiss just watching like we were nuts. Go figure. CITY LUGANO! I also met up with Penny and had a goodbye beer with him on the way back to the hostel.

What an epic day. Could the Sunday be any better? Yes it could. And it was.


Sunday, up early again and surprisingly not that hungover. Although it would be a blatant lie to say I was on the top of my game. One early and long/strenuous (and mostly residential, which is my first of the kind) hike up to Verzasca Dam. The longest single-cable bungee jump in the world, and something like only 13m less than the world's longest bungee jump. 220m from top to bottom, and 220m of complete glory. To anyone paying close attention to the following media devices, you will notice that this is the James Bond bungee jump from the intro to Goldeneye!

It could take an entire blog just to explain the experience, and I still wouldn't do it justice, but I'll give it a summarized go, followed by a VIDEO. Yah, I have proof I had the kahunas to do it.

So jumping. You get strapped up and you think "man this is going to be AWESOME!" You walk up the steps on to the platform overhanging the dam and someone hooks you up asking if it is your first jump. You smile, and say yah. You look over the rail at where you will be falling in a matter of a minute. It looks surreal, like the picture above. You can honestly fool yourself into thinking that you are dreaming. It is THAT surreal. I have video of myself actually laughing with the people hooking me up (relaxed, not that nervous laugh you can get) and I was just jamming away to the beats like I had been doing since we had arrived. You are hooked up and you realize it's not a dream. You are told to walk up to the edge and put your toes over. You do it and realize you are about to do the coolest thing you will probably ever do.

"Are you ready?"

*Nod*, "yes".

"On three. 3, 2, 1" (I would write three, two, one, but it goes by too fast for that)

Jump. Your legs do not want to leave solid ground and lock up a bit, but you've got the jump momentum to carry you through. You are falling, and you realize you've made the worst decision of your entire life. You are going to die. That feeling seems to last an eternity, but once you are over it, it is the best feeling ever. It becomes the most peaceful place in the universe. Nirvana, if you will. All you hear is the wind whistling by, and see the concrete blur past you. You realize that it is definitely the BEST decision you've ever made in your entire life.

To get an idea as to how long it takes to get over the initial fear, watch the video and note when my arms go out from in front of me. It is at that point that I cease to be afraid and think about how bad my form was jumping, and that I should put my arms out so it would look cooler.

The bounce up was crazy, and I don't remember it very well because it didn't seem like anything more than a super huge jump upward. The second fall was the best part of the whole jump. You can hear people yelling when you bounce up the first time, and then it goes back into complete silence. And you feel like Superman.

You get towed to the top and you reach the platform again. They unhook you, and you are just SO pumped up that you are shaking. It was just ridiculous. You are pumped for soooooo long afterward. You want to do it again, immediately.

While still feeling like I was on the top of the world, the remainder of the group finished jumping and we went to the other side of the dam to do a commemorative gun. Surprised? You really shouldn't be...

Once you are back to a stable self, you also come to a horrible realization. The only way you can top that rush now is by skydiving, because there isn't anything substantially bigger to bungee off of. If that's not an allusion, I don't know what is...

After the jump, we took a bus to a local town which has a river that feeds the dam. It also has a bridge 12m from the water that you can jump off of. Hahaha... After jumping off a dam, that bridge jump was a joke. No fear what so ever. Then again, I didn't give myself time to be fearful. I just asked one of the locals if I was at the right spot and was airborne before I even looked down longer than to make sure it was clear below before I vaulted the rail. It didn't even hurt, which was a pleasant surprise. You get a fair bit of hang time on 12m, just for the record. Afterward, we explored the river downstream and slept on some big rocks.

After we had dried off and got back to the bus, we went to a train station where I jumped off a curb. It was epic. We went on a train. I jumped off the train. It was epic. It was also stopped. We had an hour to burn in Bellinzona, so we went kebab hunting. We found a castle and some of us went exploring. I jumped off a castle.
Sunday was just a jumping type of day.

I don't want to ruin this blog by going into what has happened this week because it will just water down the epicicity of the weekend. So I won't. I will just say that I officially have fellow interns in my building, on my floor. And it is great.

Even two full days later, I am still SO high on life.


And now, without further delay, I present the "Steve is better than Pierce Brosnan - Goldeneye Bungee Jump" video:

video