NEW CAMERA LENSES / by Anthony Brooks

Switzerland was... expensive? Housing, food, transportation, breathing (kidding). It was all overpriced and ridiculous. Granted, they make high wages there so if you're working in Switzerland the prices are quite reasonable. 

Prices aside, the Swiss people are great and the landscapes are beautiful. Cold (in late-September/early-October), but beautiful. There were multiple days when I was in Bern that I walked in surplus of 10 miles out to the countryside just to get a good viewpoint of the city and the Alps. As there are mountains everywhere, a good view isn't exactly hard to come by. I was also lucky as I found a host the entire time that I was in Switzerland (whether near Zurich or in Bern; Geneva wasn't so lucky and I wasn't willing to pay their hostel prices). While spending time near Zurich, I stayed with my friend Lea (she's mentioned in past blogs HERE (last paragraph) and HERE) for those who are just finding this blog and a man named Dag in Bern. As I haven't previously introduced Dag, I'll do it now. He's a man in his 50's who has been in various countries all over the world, done ayuhuasca in the rain forest, works for the Swiss gov't, and has some very interesting views on both politics (worldwide) and the effects of stomach bacteria on full-body health. Oh, and he lives extremely close to the altstadt of the city Bern. In regards to getting around for little to no cost, his house was absolutely perfect. Oh, I guess I should mention on many Swiss buses, they don't check for tickets so you can (you shouldn't (you should)) ride for free. 

I gave hitchhiking another shot in Switzerland as well. Which ended horribly with me admitting defeat and getting a blablacar ride to the next location (and again to the next, and the one after that). After discussing my German and Swiss hitching woes with locals, they admitted that many there are wearing about picking hitchhikers up due to horror stories spread within the past few years. That being said, they told me that many other European countries don't share the same views, so fingers are crossed for the rest of my travels.

**Below are both the drawings (1st) and photos (second) from my time in Bern, Switzerland**

From Geneva (where I was for ~4-5 hours), I took a late night rideshare to Annecy, France. My host there (Fabrice) lived directly in what the locals call Little Venice and my God it was beautiful. There are cobblestone streets, vendors with their carts selling produce, meats, cheeses, and breads in the morning, and a river that flows through a canal of sorts. Oh, and you have a castle behind the building and a mountain view with a lake in the other direction. It was like a little slice of heaven. I was lucky that he's an extremely easy-going person as I didn't get there until after midnight. Even after my phone call (to which he answered in very fast French), he came down, welcomed me into his home, asked if I wanted anything to drink, and gave me a quick tour of the place (including the futon where I would be sleeping and which was surprisingly comfortable). The next day, we both woke up late and he gave me a historical tour of the old part of the city, complete with stories to go along with the town's secrets and fun facts that connected the old buildings with modern day events. As someone who loves hearing about others' culture and history, I loved it. 

Currently, I'm still in Annecy for another day and I'm staying with a woman named Nathalie and her two teenagers. They're so welcoming and friendly and I don't think I could have gotten any luckier. Last night, I was welcomed to her mother's birthday celebration where we had fondue and her father poured me glass after glass of a French white wine. I felt like I was family and the entire experience was one of the best points of my trip so far. I think that brings this blog up to date... I'm heading south to Ugine to stay with my friend Mike (who I traveled in Iceland with) for a couple of days. That's all for now though, so stay tuned for more :) 

p.s. I haven't done as many drawings lately as I've been focusing on larger, full scene sketches rather than the smaller ones that I was doing. Something to keep my interest alive. I've also been a bit distracted as I FINALLY got new camera lenses for my DSLR (I broke my old one nearly 2 months ago in Iceland) and so I've been using it to photograph EVERYTHING! Oh, and today, my phone that took a plunge in the river with me in Iceland also turned on. It's been a good few days. 

To the left is the drawing that I did for Nathalie as a way of saying thanks and below are photos taken while in Annecy