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Switzerland!

My long lost home.

sunny 60 °F

There's a lot to cover in this entry since a lot has transpired since my last entry, so here goes...

France

Life continues here in France without too much excitement aside from the housing challenges. I'm basically only in Dijon Monday through Friday, sometimes only Monday afternoon through Friday afternoon even, so there's not too much to say. The housing situation continues to drag on and on and at this point I'm ready to put a bullet to it. They've continued to ask for the money, reducing it by not returning my security deposit (ok, I guess), but the bed bug problem continues. I've taken every step I can to lessen it with bug sprays and washing my clothes and so on, but I'm refusing to pay until they're gone. At this point it's beginning to look like I may even by flying back to the States two weeks early solely because of this problem, instead of flying home on 12/20 like initially planned. That means my travel plans to Scandinavia may not happen, nor the plans with my friend to visit northern Africa, but such is life. Anyways, on to the exciting stuff...

Switzerland!!

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All I can say is wow. Have a lot at the pictures linked below and especially the 360s to have a glimpse into the Swiss Alps, and you'll see why. As a mountain man, skier, hiker, climber, 14er addict, and so on, this place was like a place of dreams for me. Seeing the Matterhorn in person and visiting Zermatt ski resort was phenomenal, and we had exceptional weather for all of it. Friday night we left Dijon at around 730pm on a train for Lausanne Switzerland. The French train company SNCF was delayed slightly like usual, and thus we missed our connecting train to Luzern by a few minutes. Stuck in Lausanne at 10pm is not exactly ideal, and our hostel only allows check in until midnight. So...we proceeded to take a variety of trains towards Luzern, and arrived there at 12:45. The hostel remained open for us until 1:10, but charged us 2 Swiss Francs per minute after midnight, so we had to pay a pretty penny (about 13Euros/person) for being late. No travel is complete without a bit of adventure though I suppose, so I didn't let it bother me too much.

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Saturday we got up to a gray and cloudy Luzern, bummed with the weather but ready to explore anyways. We checked out the local market, which was rather cool, and then headed towards Mt. Pilatus, a towering peak near Luzern. I had never heard of this place, but it was spectacular. We took the world's longest gondola to mid mountain and explored for a bit there. This put us above the clouds, before taking a second larger gondola up to the top where a hotel and restaurant are. We walked around here for a bit, and I took some pictures and 360s. You really are above the clouds and the views of the Alps are unworldly. After exploring here for a bit, we took the world's steepest cog train down to a lake where we took a tram back into the town of Luzern. It's incredible how well connected Switzerland is by rail. You can get on trains all over the country with camping gear, ski gear, mountaineering gear, and go to a mountain to play outside. It's amazing. And, Subaru is the official car. It's incredible. And the people in Switzerland are gorgeous. Surely my future wife is there somewhere...

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Anyways, Sunday we got up super early to head to Zermatt for the day before returning to Dijon. We took a series of 3 trains from Luzern to Zermatt which went through Bern and other places. We arrived at Zermatt at around 10am, and I was like a kid in a candy store. There were people on the train with skis, getting ready to go skiing. People in the ticket line were buying lift tickets. If only I had known I could ski, I would've rented gear if only for one run in the Alps. It was a bluebird day, so the pictures and 360s turned out absolutely spectacular. We took a cog train up to the top of the ski area, which is surrounded by 29 peaks higher than 4000m, so you can imagine on a bluebird day what it's like. We all took pictures and enjoyed lunch up there, explored a little bit, and took it all in. There's also a small church up there we found, so I lit a candle for my grandfather who passed last year. If you asked me why, I'm not sure I could tell you, but it just felt right and something moving was telling me to do it. After this, we all headed back down to catch our train back to Lausanne and then back to Dijon. We arrived back in Dijon at about 930pm Sunday evening, wrapping up a phenomenal weekend. The inflation in Switzerland is outrageous, so I nearly bankrupted myself and had to use my American card once to save myself, but it was worth every single penny to see that place and those mountains. I'll be back to climb them someday.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday here in Dijon, which was relatively uneventful. I'm not a big fan of celebrations, so it was nice. I really wanted to go to Paris to celebrate in a more exciting place, but it's not about when you celebrate, it's about who you're with, so maybe some other time. Today and tomorrow I'll be prepping for my French test tomorrow night, and it's odd because it's one of the first times I've actually had actual work to do here with any level of pressure. After the exam we're going to go out to some French clubs to celebrate my birthday though, which should be fun. I put together my schedule for next quarter tonight as well, which means it's time to start looking ahead, as much of an adventure as study abroad has been for me. Speaking of adventures, the school has a holiday week next week, so some friends and I are taking off Thursday night for 12 days of traveling! We're heading to Italy, visiting Milan, Florence, Venice, Rome, and Pisa before heading to Vienna in Austria for a few days and then looping back through Paris to Dijon on the 1st of November. Not a bad adventure, and I'm saving tons of money with my Eurail pass too (this trip is costing 150 Euros in total for transportation...that's all.). I've learned a ton from experiencing other cultures first hand, which has been awesome. All this traveling is going to bankrupt me soon, but I'm ok with that because of the places I'm seeing and how much I'm learning. Hopefully I can practice my Italian more in Italy too. That also means there probably won't be another blog update until I get back around the first or second of November. That all said, I should probably go study some more for that French exam tomorrow night... Be sure to check out the pictures and 360s below though for a look inside Switzerland!

Au revoir!

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Pictures:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2538515184181.2143410.1292672395&type=1&l=a994aaa417

360s! These are both my favorite ones I've taken so far.

Top of Mt. Pilatus: http://360.io/dff38k
Top of Zermatt Ski Resort: http://360.io/4dqBdB

Posted by la vita bella 13:33 Archived in France Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes bridges churches art skylines people snow night boats trains paris hiking france travel hotel train trekking village italy backpack ski bells friends philippines cathedral family hostel photos language french hike wine torino europe mtn vatican switzerland international housing dijon swiss milano alps american panoramic residence osprey law scout study iphone learning vail euros 360 14ers maroon rmvr scouting scouts esc camera+ francs Comments (0)

London

And other Wicked awesome things.

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I'm going to make this blog as brief as possible since I'm running on about 3 hours of sleep following leaving London for Dijon this morning to make class here in Dijon today. Study abroad and traveling has done a really good job of teaching me to give up sleep and deal with it. You can do a lot more things with the extra time that way, see more sights, travel more, and since the workload is still almost nonexistent over here, it's worked out great.

Last week was pretty low key for the most part, with a few small highlights. The housing situation here is still an absolutely mess and continues to cause problems, which consumed more time for me last week than my classes did. I went and toured a new flat across Dijon, it's sort of an apartment styled place in the basement of a single woman's home. That was quite the experience, because she spoke no English, and I didn't know this beforehand, so I basically went apartment shopping in a foreign country in a foreign language. Quite the experience to say the least. Luckily, my French is good enough that I was able to communicate most of my ideas, understand most of what was being said, and it all worked out. It's in a beautiful part of Dijon on a Lake I haven't seen yet, and the apartment is great. The downsides are taking a bus to campus and the train station requiring a monthly bus pass, and the general pain of moving all my stuff again. It was also the first time I had ridden in a car since leaving Denver, which was weird, and she neglected to tell me she wasn't driving me back to campus, so I was left to explore and figure out the bus system on my own, in a foreign language. It all worked out in the end, but if you thought navigating the Denver bus system was bad, just try this the next time you're alone in a foreign country where you barely speak the language. I may end up moving to this residence, but things are still uncertain. The residence I'm in currently looks more and more likely like it has bed bugs, but the French don't have a word for bed bugs, which makes everything challenging. And regardless, I don't think they'll actually let me move out without taking my money, so it's all a mess. At this point the figure ranging around 500 Euros has changed 3 times, so I've asked for an official record and receipts of payment from them, which I haven't received yet. As far as I'm concerned the ball is in their court to get the money out of me, and I'm going to keep fighting the bed bugs problem. I really hope this thing ends soon because it's put my study abroad experience in a completely different light than I ever would have expected or wanted, but who knows where it'll go from here.

The highlight of last week was Wednesday when I returned home from class to an email from Denver saying that my story which was featured on DU Today online is going to be printed and run in the Denver quarterly magazine, which gets sent out to over 100,000 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and affiliates worldwide. I sent them a few hires pictures of me as requested, and can't wait to see what the finished product looks like. It blows my mind how big this story has become. I told my parents and best friend the day it happened and that was it, viewing it more as a right place right time and preparation plus opportunity equals success kind of thing. Since then, I've been in the Vail paper twice, the Salida paper twice, been on an online Colorado news site I didn't even know was published, been on the BSA website as an Eagle Scout who saves a life, been in DU Today and on the front page of the DU website, and now this. It blows my mind because I didn't think anything of it when it happened. I'm honored and flattered by all of it, and I'm curious to see the reactions I get from people when the DU Magazine goes out. So, when you receive a copy of the magazine, look for me in there!!

And lastly, I spent this last weekend visiting London with my Filipino friends! By far the coolest city I've ever visited and I think it's the coolest city in the world. I took an early train Saturday morning to arrive there by noon (Dijon to Paris, Paris to London), which was relatively pain free. The Chunnel is incredibly overrated and Eurostar charges obnoxious fees to ride the train from Paris to London, but it was better than flying from my my Filipino friends told me since they all flew. The so called Chunnel is just 30 minutes of darkness underground before you emerge on land again. No tunnel underwater views, no open water views, nothing fancy. When I arrived there I checked into our hostel and dropped my stuff to meet my friends about 20 minutes away at Hyde Park for a walking tour. On the tour we got to see Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, a couple of the old palaces from former kings and queens, a London protest, Westminster Abbey, among other awesome things. All of the pictures are posted in a gallery that I've linked below. After the walking tour we went and had midafternoon lunch at a local pub, where I ordered two burgers (they were on special, I promise!) and promptly enjoyed the first two beef burgers I've had since leaving the States. They weren't Cherry Cricket burgers by any means, but I was satisfied. I tried a local ale with the meal as well, which was great. I'm trying to sample a local beer in every country I visit, along with wines in places like France and Italy.

After this, we headed to Covent Gardens, which is kind of an open air market area with shops and outlet shops. We looked in stores for a bit (man is Burberry London expensive...who buys that stuff anyways?) and then headed to Apollo Victoria Theatre for what was probably the highlight of the trip for me...Wicked in London. Words can't really do it justice, honestly. It was just so so SO good. Chills the whole time. Set was incredible and world class, and the cast was even better. Truly the best musical in the world with its best and strongest cast. Unbelievable. Well worth the money I spent on those tickets. Afterwards we all regrouped and headed back to the hostel. After dropping our things at the hostel we headed to Baker Street since I've played gigs at probably every Baker Street Pub in the state of Colorado and wanted to see the real thing. Unfortunately, Baker Street is really just a bunch of shops in London for the most part, but it was cool just so I can say I've been there now I guess. That concluded Saturday in London. Sunday, we headed to the Tower of London for a tour there, which was really awesome as well, and right next to the Tower of London bridge (commonly referred to as the London bridge, even though it's not). Inside the Tower of London is also where the Queens royal jewelry collection is stored, including the crowns and the 530 karat diamond. Yeah, it's absolutely huge. And yeah, the case was surrounded by girls. It was still cool thought. That afternoon my friend and I went to see Lion King the musical also, which was not as good as Wicked in my opinion, but the choreography and costume designs were phenomenal and it was still incredible. After this we headed towards the London eye where I met up with an old friend of mine. He and I went to Regis high school in Denver, and he's a junior at DU this year, so it was awesome to connect with him, a fellow Coloradoan, and just talk and catch up. He's spending a semester in London right now. We both went up in the Eye of London together too, where I caught some awesome pictures and an absolutely killer 360 panoramic shot, linked below. We stopped by the train station on the way back to the hostel to visit Platform 9 and 3/4 from Harry Potter, but this basically concluded our night and trip to London. We went back to the hostel, crashed, and I got up at 330am to head to the train station for my 530am train back to Paris and then back to Dijon since I had French class tonight.

Needless to say, class wasn't nearly as exciting as London and running on 3 hours of sleep I almost passed out in class, but I made it out ok. This week should be a pretty light week of class, again, before leaving Friday evening for Zurich in Switzerland with my Filipino friends. We're coming back Sunday evening, and Monday the 17th will be my 22nd birthday. After spending my last two birthdays on the summit of 14ers in Colorado with some of my best friends, I'm trying to come up with an equally creative and awesome way to spend this year's birthday. Right now I'm considering the Eiffel Tower in Paris since it's close, or a brief train ride to the Alps or Italy for the day. Either way, it should be a great day. The weekend after this one, we've already started trying to plan another trip. I'm considering taking the weekend "off" and staying here to rest for a weekend especially since there are rumors that SNCF is planning a strike around then, but no plans have really been decided yet. Either way, every week promises to be an adventure here with constant unexpected things popping up and new places and countries to see and explore. As always, enjoy the pictures and 360s posted below, and stay tuned for more travel stories and pictures from Switzerland and beyond!

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London Pictures. I actually put some time into the captions here, so take some time to read them!
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2514231697109.2142651.1292672395&l=a6d6e9b7b9&type=1

360 views!
From the top of the London Eye at night: http://t.co/9y7g8HOx
Inside the lobby of the Apollo Victoria Theatre before Wicked: http://t.co/bgJ5bmTs

Posted by la vita bella 12:33 Archived in France Tagged mountains bridges churches art trains beer london cathedrals rivers tower paris france history travel hotel bus train of green river italy backpack philippines garden cathedral hostel man language french europe mtn thames abby switzerland international dijon eye swiss harry abroad business sherlock holmes american panoramic residence osprey westminster dame potter scout study iphone learning euros 360 14ers scouting scouts chunnel esc camera+ francs Comments (0)

One week.

Europe here I come!

overcast 65 °F

There are really only a few things on my mind as I write this, so here we go.

Yesterday, I was honored in Salida by the Sheriff's department with an Award of Distinguished Service. After months of being in the press, newspapers, telling the story of how I saved a man's life while hiking to friends, and receiving more attention than I'm used to in general, I was able to accept the award yesterday. I was interviewed after the ceremony by a very nice gentleman from the Mountain Mail, which was cool. I was in their paper the week everything happened, and it looks like I'll be in the paper again. I hoped that they published papers on Sundays, but they don't so I'll be looking for something in the next couple days online I guess. The Sheriff's office put me up in a hotel for the night too, which was very nice. Not the nicest hotel in town, but plenty nice and the gesture was very much appreciated. I was also lucky enough to have my best friend Zach and my family there as well, which was amazing. I was very happy to have all of them there, and for them to be able to meet the people who were part of the story that day I was out hiking. For pictures of the ceremony, visit my Facebook album: http://t.co/tjQl4eI

The other major things on my mind: France and the new girlfriend. It's been a while since I've been in a serious relationship with someone, so it's both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time I guess. I can't remember if this is what it always feels like when starting out with something new, but either way we're both excited to give it a try. I'm a little nervous given that I leave for Europe in 7 days, fresh into a new relationship, but we've both agreed to give it our best and set it aside for later if it doesn't work out right away. I'm pretty excited and hoping for the best. That said, I leave for study abroad in 7 days. I'm terrified, excited, nervous, anxious, and so on. I feel like I'm walking off a cliff into the unknown on my own on this one because I'm the only DU student headed to Dijon this fall, so it's scary, but exciting. I realized the other night that I thought the train from Charles de Gaulle Airport went to Dijon, but was wrong, so now I'm scrambling last minute to sort out how to get from Paris to Dijon when I arrive. I am very much looking forward to my studio when I arrive, and am pretty excited to have my own space and live on my own for a bit. I also can't wait to travel. The overnight train from Dijon to Milan looks pretty tempting for an every weekend trip, but we'll have to see. There are too many places to visit and explore across Europe, so we'll just have to see where I end up. Either way, I'm planning to take and post lots of pictures here, so stay tuned! I'm definitely going to miss these mountains of Colorado, but the travels ahead promise to be equally amazing. So until then, here's a picture of a sunset over Mt. Shavano from the town of Salida taken last night. IMG_1491.jpg

Posted by la vita bella 16:29 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises mountains snow france ski mtn dijon vista buena vail 14ers shavano buena_vista scouting Comments (0)

Man am I behind...

...but there are big things ahead!

65 °F

I've been meaning to write a blog for the last couple days and haven't really gotten around to it because I've been so busy, so here's a new one with some updates on the life of Scott...

Let's start with work I guess. The whole concierge thing went really well, but I've kind of disconnected from that and moved on to other things. Still doing data entry here and there, but trying to move away from that...because it's boring. It's really important to the growth of the company, and I understand that, but it needs to be shared, not beared by one person. The two things I've been spending the bulk of my time on at work now have been an international tour operator project for Tommy, our CEO, which is focused around the new magazine we're putting out next month, and rebuilding the social media outlets for this company. My hope is to wrap up this tour operator project quickly and move on to social media full time, but we'll see what happens. Nothing in this company is predictable anymore. So far, two weeks into social media, the google analytics and facebook insights results look really awesome, and I'm hoping to keep that up. If you haven't checked things out yet, visit our twitter @lodgingdeals and go like our facebook page Rocky Mountain Vacation Rentals and let me know what you think. What I can do better with, what needs more/less attention, etc. All feedback is welcome and valued!

France Update!
Things are taking shape and settling down, finally. I have a Visa appointment in less than two weeks, which is really the final step. Everything else is lined up, flight, studio, classes, etc. I bought an all access train pass for my entire trip this weekend too! Can't wait to put that thing to good use. Departure is less than seven weeks away, so close yet so far. Some days I can't believe it's really happening. It's going to be one hell of an awesome, terrifying, and life changing event, no question. Can't wait!

Hiking.
I took last weekend off from hiking in the hopes that I'll be able to hike this weekend. It was nice to be able to go home, help celebrate my birthday with my mom, play some drums (and probably annoy everyone in the house) and make some videos for my best friend Zach, and just relax. The game plan is hopefully to try something easy. I haven't put too much thought into what I want to climb this weekend, but I'm think Huron might be a good option. Barely a 14er (shortest in CO) and barely 6.5 miles round trip should be a nice test for my knee, and then I can decide if I want to hike the next day or not. If I can't hike I may just go crazy at this point since I'm so close to all these peaks that are just begging to be climbed! My goal is still to be able to hike some Elk 14ers by Aspen in August and push my limits, but time will tell where I end up next. Stay tuned for what's next, and make sure you guys continue to follow this (those of you who still do...?) while I'm studying abroad as I'm sure I'll be writing more, more interesting adventures, and things from the other side of the world!

That's it for now, short and sweet!

Posted by la vita bella 18:46 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises mountains hiking france aspen ski bells dijon vista massive buena vail 14ers tabaguache princeton buena_vista maroon elbert fairplay rmvr scouting elks acl Comments (0)

Playing Catch Up

60 °F

I realized today that it's been a while since I've written with everything going on, so I figured I'd try to write before I leave town and technology for the weekend.

Life up here in Vail has been going really well. It's such an awesome place to live, work, play, and simply reside. I'm so much happier up here than was was months ago. The freedom to live and pursue my dreams without things holding you down is amazing, and I finally feel I have that freedom to make this life everything I want it to be and more. It's a powerful and awesome feeling. Work has been going really well up here too, and I think (it's kind of implied) I may have earned a job offer up here again in a year when I graduate. Nothing is written in black and white, but I think it's there and I couldn't be more excited about it. I'm thoroughly enjoying the concierge work thus far and the perks that come with it and hope the rest of this summer is just as much fun here.

Study abroad is rapidly approaching. As I am writing this I'm officially 59 days out from departure. All that remains is getting that Visa in LA and my train ticket from Paris to Dijon. Housing, classes, flight, Campus France, are all completed. I'm having way too much fun living and playing up here in Vail to realize how soon that is, but the excitement is starting to build. Having never been to Europe before and about to spend 4 months there by myself, it's a pretty terrified excited feeling, but I'm ready. It will put me one step closer to that goal that I set for myself at the beginning of college and the end in sight.

Last weekend I was unable to hike due to a torn (we think) ligament in my right knee, but I still went down to Buena Vista with my good friend and drove up part of the mountain where I saved the man's life. He has a lifted truck so I thought we'd see how far up we could get, and ended up at 12,200 feet. My car couldn't go any further at 10,600 for reference. It was a fun little drive, and we cruised around Colorado on US24 the rest of the day as I pointed out all the cool history and things there are to see. We enjoyed lunch in Leadville at a small little Italian place that is now on my list of favorite lunch spots. Definitely worth the stop if passing through.

I spent the next two days in Denver, briefly, with my family, grandparents, and aunt in town. It was my grandmother's birthday as well, so it was great to be able to be down there and celebrate it with her and see the family for a bit, even if brief. I got a lot of business wrapped up while down there and settled some things with my parents too since it had been a month since home. After things were done I headed back to Vail, thankful to be heading westbound on I70 on Monday and not eastbound, that traffic looked brutal. I've never been in or seen traffic so bad in my life on that highway.

The man whose life I saved called me last week and I spoke with him briefly. Good to hear from him, and I'm glad to know he's going to be making a full recovery. He told me he still has some nightmares of drowning from the accident and can only go for 60 minute walks (this was last week Wednesday) since is oxygen levels are still too low. I haven't spoken to him since, but it's great to know he'll recover fully.

This weekend I am planning to hike some more 14ers, hopefully without a hitch this time. Every time I've gone out this summer something has happened, for better or for worse, so hopefully this weekend will be better. My knee feels recovered, and I was able to bike on it the last two days without pain. I'll be hopefully climbing Mt. Yale Saturday and Elbert Sunday, possibly for Sunday sunrise from Colorado's highest point. If anything changes, I'll probably be meeting up with Zach for some food and catch up since he's in town for the weekend. Either way, it looks like a fun weekend ahead. Stay tuned till next time!

Here's something cool to look at until then, these are the kind of stories and people that inspire me to do what I do, and remind me that anything is possible even when you think it might not be: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=10266

Posted by la vita bella 19:50 Tagged mountains snow hiking france aspen ski bells hike eagle mtn dijon vista buena scout vail 14ers shavano princeton buena_vista maroon antero elbert Comments (0)

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