Saturday, December 23, 2006

IWK Nudie Run

For the last 6 or 8 weeks we at Collideascope have been collecting our spare change to donate to the IWK Children's Hospital. A little friendly competition between the first floor (represented by Ron Doucet) and the third floor (Mark Cappello) was inevitable. An agreement was reached that the loser would run around the block in downtown Halifax wearing... well... see for yourself!

As you can see, the first floor was victorious... and Mark made it to the front page of the Chronicle Herald. (That's me crouching on the left!)

Here Gord passes Mark a celebratory cigarette as he rounds the final corner to the finish line. I'm sure many videos are available on YouTube if you haven't seen enough. :)

Staff donations were matched by Collideascope, and in the end a total of $4000 was donated to the IWK! Go Collideascope!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jungfrau II

Here's me enjoying a piece of Daniel's Toblerone bar. I can't imagine a better treat for the top of the Alps! The temperature was officially -4.5 celsius, but it varied depending on where on the mountain we were. I'm actually sitting in an observation post called the Sphinx, which is 3571m high. From here we could see France, Germany, and Italy.

Below is the view down from the Sphinx to the glacier below. This glacier got stuck here during the last ice age, and has been here ever since. Those little specks are people walking the path. We were nearing the end of the tourist season, but usually there are a number of activities, from skiing to husky rides to tobogganing.

Below is me and Daniel talking on the path on the glacier. At the very top of the closest peak behind us is the Sphinx, where the previous photo was taken from. Very high!

It was incredibly hot on the plain. We were totally sheltered from any wind, and the sun was reflecting from every direction. We were warned of sunburns, but no one listened. :) And hey, now we can say we got sunburned while in the Alps!

One of my favourite photos:

Just as the chip bags exploded on the way up, my water bottle (last sealed on top of the mountain) imploded on the way down!

Jungfrau Mountain

Our second day in Switzerland was spent exploring Jungfrau mountain, the highest mountain in Europe. The mountain is 4158m high, but we only went as far as 3454m. Beyond that is only for serious climbers. We took a train half way up to a station called Kleine Scheidegg, then changed to a cog railway which took us up the rest of the way. It's a special type of railway that can handle to steep incline. Below is a view from the train into the valley below where we came from.

The altitude changed pretty rapidly, and many people bought chips just to watch them puff up as the pressure outside decreased. This is Ankie (from South Africa) with her bag of chips. We thought for sure they would explode, but the bag was just too strong. :)

This mountain range actually has three peaks, Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. There is a legend that the Ogre (Eiger) was putting the moves on the young virgin (Jungfrau) when a monk (Monch) intervened, and somehow the three were turned to stone. (I probably should have paid more attention to the tour guide. :))

The train heads for a plateau between Monch and Jungfrau. On it's way it actually goes THROUGH Eiger mountain. And periodically there are stops were we could get off and look out of windows dug out of the side of the mountain. Wow.

After about two hours on the train, we finally made it to the pleateau! The altitude gave me a bit of a headache, but that went away pretty quickly. The only other effect of the altitude was just how much harder it was to hike through the snow or walk up stairs. We'd get out of breath quickly, and it was easy to over do it!

This is us with Jungfrau behind us... the highest point in Europe. This is also the highest post office and highest train station in Europe.

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

After leaving Lucerne we travelled to the base of the Alps and stayed in a town called Lauterbrunnen. Coming in to town we were delayed by slow moving cows. :)

We stayed at a campground, which has little cabins and a big chalet. We all stayed in the chalet. Chris and I got a giggle out of staying at a "Swiss Chalet" but apparently the restaurant chain is only in Canada, so no one else understood our amusement. :)

There were waterfalls everywhere. The one behind our campsite was really pretty. We were able to climb up and follow a path that leads right behind the waterfall and look down on the valley.
This gorgeous little bridge was how we got to the dining hall. It was just amazing scenery here... lush valleys with huge mountains on either side, and the Alps in the background. The bridge crossed a very cold and fast moving river.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Europe VI: Switzerland

Switzerland had gorgeous countryside. So green! I still think Austria beats it for beauty, but the addition of the Alps adds a lot to Switzerland's appeal.

Our first stop was in Lucerne for some shopping and sight seeing. It was a beautiful city with a fast moving river and a cool covered bridge. The picture below is taken from the bridge, newly repaired after a devastating fire.

Below is a monument to the Swiss Guard. If you don't know anything about them, you should look it up - it's fascinating. This monument commemorates the more than 700 Swiss guard who died while defending King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during the French Revolution. The Swiss Guard were betrayed by the French who failed to inform them that the royal family had already fled the building. You'll notice the proud lion is stabbed in the back by a spear, and lies on a broken shield decorated with the Frence fleur-de-lis.