Extreme Double Date.

This trip began in Brussels, Belgium, where we landed the morning of the 4th of July, brandishing our American flag bandannas proudly through customs and immigration. With 6 hours to kill before our train, the group walked to the vibrantly pink travel center to validate our Eurrail passes and reserve the international trips that needed booking. Our first venture in Europe was a semi-success. We had found the regional train reservations desk, who were helpful but limited in their ability to assist in our 11-day whirlwind of a visit. We made a reservation from Brussels and walked to the international bookings travel center. Waiting with numbers a la the Fayette County DMV is a bit unhinging after a 9 hour international flight with little sleep, but we found what we needed and walked into Brussels proper.

We found our way down an alleyway to a haven for less touristy restaurants and happened upon a friendly Greek man who drew us into his restaurant for the affordable mussels. Tired or not, a steam pot full of mussels and French fries paired with two Stella Artois is exactly what the doctor ordered.

We ate and ran, walking through the city to catch photos in front of the royal palace to declare our independence from [some monarch] in honor of our country’s 238th birthday. Eventually, all of us lost the novelty of being in Brussels wandering with backpacks and killing time, so we made our way to the station to board for our train to Konstanz, Germany and Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, our first night’s destination.

Departing the port at Konstanz, in Germany

Our ferry to Mainau, the "Island of Flowers"
European breakfasts, especially in Germany and Switzerland, are a simple and delicious affair, normally involving hard-boiled eggs, meats, cheeses, croissants and some type of bread and granola. After eating, we walked across the international border separating Switzerland from Germany and caught a boat to the island of Mainau, an island in Germany’s portion of the lake, which proudly proclaims over 200 types of conifers and what we can only imagine to be a billion other types of plants and flowers. The sun finally burned through the clouds as we began our walk and the island was brightened significantly in the sunshine.
Among the conifers

Our boat ride back was spent eating and toasting a very relaxing morning and we picked up our luggage to head on to Zürich for the rest of day 2.

In Zürich, Hannah and Chris were in for a life-changing moment. Hannah was finally to be let in on the secret we were all anticipating, though none more than Chris. I picked up a cheap bottle of semisecco to open along the way and the three of us began celebrating the occasion to come.

After we checked into our hotel, we hopped on a train to the top of Üetliberg, where the weather cooperated beautifully to provide gorgeous panoramic views of the city and lake below. There was a U.S. Navy wedding reception happening at the peak, and we walked with other Americans to the clearing underneath an observation deck, next to a hotel/restaurant.

Afsi knew Chris was looking for a special place for his surprise and would want some privacy so she ducked down an isolated metal staircase where Chris saw an opportunity off of the beaten path. We all hopped off the trail onto a rock outcropping and decided to each "pose".

After Afsi and I took our turn, we offered to take a few of Hannah and Chris.

Chris took Hannah's hand and dropped to his knees to ask Hannah if she would marry him. It was the perfect setting, with beautiful surroundings and she told him "of course".

The pressure of the trip was now eased and the rest of our adventure could be spent as two engaged couples, carousing along the rail lines through western Europe.

More details to come!

- K