My first Couchsurfing experience was quite the venture. After a week of exploration on the Jurassic Coast of England with some of my favorite people, I flew to Basel, Switzerland (for only $36 on Ryanair) and arrived around 10pm. I made plans with a host to take the necessary local transportation until arriving at her house. After getting lost numerous times, accompanied by a rising level of frustration, I was relieved to finally find where I was going and to be met with a healthy pour of red wine. Looking out over her balcony to the city below, I was told that the border of Germany was only a stone's throw away and that I had technically landed at an airport in France. I was so excited being so close to the borders that naturally, while she was at work the next day, I had to adventure between the three countries. I set off in Switzerland, following the Rhine River with a Swiss beer in hand until I found a beautiful bridge that took me across and in the direction of France. I found a brasserie and enjoyed a French pint before setting off in the direction of Germany. Walking between the three countries with my only intention being to explore and try the best beer from each respective country kept a smile on my face. I'm almost certain it had nothing to do with the alcohol.
After finding my way back to my Swiss host, she laughed at my choice of activities for the day. She apparently liked how spontaneous I was, so she asked to take me on a surprise adventure. How could I say no? The following morning we packed her BMW at dawn and set off on a freeway that mentioned Zurich. Where was she taking me? The unknown was so much better than knowing what lay ahead. We listened to her electronic music and sped through the beautiful Swiss mountains until arriving at a ferry station. Lake Konstanz was quite a big lake to drive around, so she wanted to cross it by ferry. But seriously, where in the world was she taking me?
After another hour of meandering through what was now German countryside, we came to a parking lot. Mind you, I spoke very little German, so when the parking attendant collected some Euros and directed us to a steep hillside with a dirt trail, my curiosity nearly drove me crazy. Alessandra, my host, told me to bring my camera. She clearly didn't know me very well yet. We walked up this steep hillside, winding back and forth through a thick forest until we came to a wooden bridge. The bridge had hundreds, if not thousands of locks on it with people's initials and dates written on them. She told me not to look to either side until we were in the middle of the bridge, which proved more difficult with each step I took. When we finally made it to the middle, I looked up to my right and was awestruck. A beautiful, meandering river carved a gorge into the mountain, falling serenely in front of us in multiple tiers until it flowed directly below us. I was stunned at the beauty. But then my curiosity had me follow the water beneath my feet until it went to the other side of the bridge, where I looked up and saw it for my first time.
Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany // Photographer: Jason Wilson // Canon 70D + Canon 24-105mm f/4L // ISO 100, f/8, 1/200
What an incredible castle. I was blown away. This castle was built for a reclusive king in southwest Bavaria, Germany and became the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. We spent hours exploring different angles of this magical place, taking hundreds of photos and pretending we were living in days of olde. Toward the end of the day we headed back to the car where Ale tossed me the keys. She was tired and said I might like driving her car (a 6-speed BMW 1 series with a diesel engine). I may have grinned a little. We took the highway back toward Switzerland, but I kept getting passed by all sorts of people despite driving faster than any speed law in California. I asked her how often people get speeding tickets for driving that fast, and she laughed.. Only to say 4 beautiful words in response: "There is no speed." I was on the autobahn and didn't even know it. After her joking about me driving like a grandma, I put the pedal to the floor with the intent to make up for lost time.
Photos taken during this trip were caught using an assortment of Canon bodies and lenses, mounted on a Dolica tripod, and carried out in my favorite Lowepro adventure backpack.
Explore the world through my lens
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