22 cities in 45 days! (6/27-8/12) | Part 1

Summer Backpacking 2015

Ronchamp, Belfort, Basel, Zurich, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Santorini, Athens, Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt

So where and how should I begin? This 45 day backpacking trip began after the end of my paris summer program. A friend of mine came from the states to join me in this Eurotrip(We both received the E. Lewis Dales Traveling Fellowship.) As of now this has been the craziest and most energy consuming trip in my life. I'm not sure whether it was a good idea planning everything so condensed, but we definitely made the most out of each place we stayed. By the end of this trip I have already stayed in europe for over 80 days and travelled to 12 countries(including Vatican city) and over 25 cities across europe. My friend and I got sick at the end of the trip, so we got really lazy when we arrived to Germany. Anyway, I'm writing this blog about 4 months after the end of this trip, so many of the details may not be illustrated. All the picture's here are taken with my smartphone with an exception of a few from my friend congee (bokeh heavy pictures). Non of these images are post processed (No PS NO BS), except for a few instagram photos I might include.

 

01. Ronchamp, France (6/27)

Tourist Center for Notre Dame Du Haut

Tourist Center for Notre Dame Du Haut

My backpacking trip began with visiting Le corbusier's famous Notre dame Du haut at Ronchamp! One of the most famous buildings by Le corbusier, and every architecture student's must go destination in France. We first arrived at Belfort and took a small train to Ronchamp, but then we realized our schedule was way too tight, and we had way too little time to walk all the way up the hill to Notre Dame. Luckily we were able to hitch a hike up the mountain by sticking our thumbs at the entrance of the hill! The driver's son was engaged to a Taiwanese girl, so at least we had something to talk about during the 20 minute drive up the hill.

Nearby Building underneath the hill

Nearby Building underneath the hill

Nearby Building

Nearby Building

Notre Dame Du Haut Ronchamp!

Notre Dame Du Haut Ronchamp!

Iconic view of the Notre Dame, I was kind of touched to finally see this church in person.

Nearby pyramid

Nearby pyramid

A pyramid which allows for a much more holistic view of the church

Details of the exterior

Bells in the forest

Bells in the forest

Interior view

Interior view

My smart phone pics probably don't do this building justice~ but I'm showing them anyway

Reddish Skylight

Reddish Skylight

The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp (French: Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp), completed in 1954, is one of the finest examples of the architecture of Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and one of the most important examples of twentieth-century religious architecture. The chapel is a working religious building and is under the guardianship of the private foundation Association de l’Oeuvre de Notre-Dame du Haut.[2] It attracts 80,000 visitors each year
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre_Dame_du_Haut

Adding a quote from wikipedia in just to eliminate the awkward spacing of images and to make this blog less picture heavy!

Le corb's colored glass that filters in southern light. From what I heard, someone stole a piece of this glass while visiting the church and sold it for a fortune on ebay.

 Notre Dame's 61st anniversary 

 Notre Dame's 61st anniversary 

It was the church's birthday the day we went there so there were scheduled performances later that afternoon, but our schedule didn't allow for us to stay there that late. We only had about 2:30 minutes to climb up the hill, visit the church, and then leave back to the train station; or else we would be stuck in the small town of Ronchamp, or more like the...  wilderness of Ronchamp.

Model of Notre Dame Du huat

Model of Notre Dame Du huat

Goodbye Ronchamp!

I won't go in this much detail with other buildings, but this building is way too beautiful to write a brief description about. Going down the hill we also hitchhiked or else we wouldn't have been able to catch our train back. Everything was planned so that even a little delay might cost us the trip for our next destination. Two engaged architects stopped by and drove us down the hill. They said they visited this place together when they were still studying in London, and wanted to see this church again before they got married. I guess this summer was a good time to get married~

 
Main church of Belfort

Main church of Belfort

Stone Lion

Stone Lion

One of the only tourist attractions in Belfort is the Stone lion which is on a fortress facing the whole town.

It was finished in 1880 and is entirely made of red sandstone. The blocks it is made from were individually sculpted then moved under Belfort castle to be assembled. The colossal work is 22 meters long and 11 meters high and dominates the local landscape.
The lion symbolizes the heroic French resistance during the Siege of Belfort, a 103-day Prussian assault (from December 1870 to February 1871). The city was protected from 40,000 Prussians by merely 17,000 men (only 3,500 were from the military) led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau.
Instead of facing Prussia to the east as was intended, it was turned the other way because of German protests.[1]
Smaller editions stand in the center of Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris, and in Downtown Montreal — Lion of Belfort (Montreal).
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_of_Belfort
View of Belfort... yeah

View of Belfort... yeah

We planned to just walk around belfort before our train the Basel. We had an excess of one hour(strolling around Belfort and eating local food) before we got to the train station, but we didn't notice that the train station wasn't the fast rail station(TGV)  that we booked our tickets from, so we had to hustle our way to the Belfort TGV train station. We tried calling cabs, but none of them spoke english so we just got on a bus and the bus driver was nice enough to let us get on the bus for free. We almost made it on time but a guy kept talking to the bus driver and slowed her driving down(I was really anxious watching that guy hit on the bus driver). When we got to the station our train had just left.... right in front of our eyes..I didn't think such a small town needed two train stations...

Gare Belfort TGV

Gare Belfort TGV

Almost 10 PM waiting at the train station 

Almost 10 PM waiting at the train station 

TGV..... didn't notice such a small town required 2 train stations

TGV..... didn't notice such a small town required 2 train stations

Sunset

Sunset

At least the station was rather nice, the louvres filtered in light harmoniously. We tried looking for other options and even calling taxi drivers to drive us to basel, which would cost about 100 euros per person... so we decided to give up our Airbnb at basel and just go to a nearby town called Mulhouse. We stayed there for 1 night and went to Basel the next day.I didn't take any pictures of Mulhouse because I was way too tired...

 

03. Basel, Switzerland (6/28)

Gotheaneaum

Since we missed our train to basel, and go there noon instead, we only had about 6 hours to hang out around Basel. The first destination that we wanted to visit was the Gotheanum 

Gotheanum and of course it's under construction!

Gotheanum and of course it's under construction!

The first Goetheanum, a monumental double-domed wooden structure, richly carved and painted within, was begun in 1913. It opened in 1920 and was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve 1922/23. In 1924 Rudolf Steiner presented his model for a second Goetheanum – the present one – made of reinforced concrete. Constructed between 1925 and 1928, it was the first large-scale building to employ this material for sculptural forms. Both buildings are based on an architectural concept in which each element, form and color bears an inner relation to the whole and the whole flows organically into its single elements in a process of metamorphosis. The second Goetheanum and its neighboring buildings were designed to harmonize with the local topography – the movement of the terrain and the rocky spurs of the Jura mountains visible from the Birs river valley, ten kilometers southeast of Basel.

High colored windows and the central west window indicate the large Main Auditorium and emphasise the uniqueness of its artistic and architectural qualities. A glance inside – reveal the expressive power of architecture, interior design, color and space.

East of the Auditorium and the stairwells, behind the stage is the wardrobe department with rooms for the creation, upkeep and storage of costumes, rehearsal stages and practice rooms, stage technology, and prop storage. To the north and south: conference and work rooms; bookstore, library and archives; Section and society offices; administration and conference offices; reception, information and cafeteria.
— https://www.goetheanum.org/The-Goetheanum-Building.133.0.html?&L=1
Nearby pig building- looks like a pig from the top

Nearby pig building- looks like a pig from the top

cattle right beside the sidewalk

cattle right beside the sidewalk

Structure and nice cast concrete

Structure and nice cast concrete

pig house

pig house

Details of the interior inside the Gotetheanum! The buildings around all look eccentric and have these spectacular curvatures, I wonder what kind of vernacular architecture evolved into this kind of design.

Side Facade

Side Facade

Unexpected flat rear

Unexpected flat rear

weird house which looks like a...

weird house which looks like a...

pig house once again

pig house once again

Other nearby wooden houses

Other nearby wooden houses

Train stop near the Gotheanum

Train stop near the Gotheanum

We had our first meal in Switzerland there, and finally started to realize how expensive everything was. We also had to pay for water, which was quite unusual compared to Paris and other places in France. Water was 3 Francs per cup.. super expensive! 


Teal Trolleys in Basel- a day pass is around 18 Francs... omg

Teal Trolleys in Basel- a day pass is around 18 Francs... omg

Nice sculptures but smelled like urine when walking inside

Nice sculptures but smelled like urine when walking inside

Perfect public urinal during night time

crossing over the bridge in Basel

A bunch of people and dogs were swimming in the river

A bunch of people and dogs were swimming in the river

There was some event going on near the river, a bunch of people and dogs were swimming together holding floats :or maybe this is just how people in Basel spend their free time. 

Herzog De meuron 

Herzog De meuron 

sky light, like a huge carrot slicer

sky light, like a huge carrot slicer

Facade in scale

Facade in scale

I left out some other small churches and places we visited in basel, but those weren't that impressive in comparison to larger churches across europe. We left Basel around 7PM to catch a train to go to Weil am Rhein in Germany, to then catch a 2 hour bus to Zurich. Surprisingly, they did not even check our passports when we arrived in Germany, but re-entering Switzerland they checked our passports for a few seconds. We arrived at zurich pretty late, so I didn't take any first arrival pictures. I'm glad we stayed in Zurich longer, to heal from the past 2 days travelling to 5 different cities including the transit cities. 

 

04. Zurich, Switzerland (6/28-6/30)

SB station near our Airbnb

SB station near our Airbnb

Not a great first photo I know

Gloomy photo- View of zurich and the alps blocked by the clouds

Gloomy photo- View of zurich and the alps blocked by the clouds

Boats around zurich

Boats around zurich

I guess I was a lousy photographer that day,  or it may be that it was super gloomy and I was a little to exhausted to check my photos, but heck it was just the start of my trip and I already spent one whole month in Paris prior to this.

The cocoon which we later go to see the interior the next day

The cocoon which we later go to see the interior the next day

leisure 

leisure 

More leisure 

More leisure 

Museum Heidi Weber - Le corbusier

Museum Heidi Weber - Le corbusier

The Centre Le Corbusier or Heidi Weber Museum is an art museum in Zürich (Switzerland) dedicated to the work of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. In 1960 Heidi Weber had the vision to establish a museum designed by Le Corbusier. This building should exhibit his works of art in an ideal environment created by the architect himself.
In 1960 Le Corbusier was mandated by Heidi Weber, a Swiss art collector and patron, to conceive a public exhibition building. One year later, the first drawings for a building to be constructed in concrete were presented, in 1962 the concept was changed to a steel building. Two years later the construction was started, in 1965 Le Corbusier died, and on 15 July 1967, the Centre Le Corbusier was officially inaugurated. Among others, the Heidi Weber Foundation – Centre Le Corbusier preserves the last building designed by Le Corbusier, organizes exhibitions, and collects and documents his work
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_Le_Corbusier

Really nice building by corb, too bad it wasn't opened on that day and we were leaving the next day! The 10 Swiss Franc bills also have a picture of Le corbusier on them, but Le corbusier himself became a french citizen in the midst of his carrier.

 
http://www.archdaily.com/149885/why-politics-matter-le-corbusier-fascism-and-ubs

http://www.archdaily.com/149885/why-politics-matter-le-corbusier-fascism-and-ubs

 
Swan leisure time

Swan leisure time

Sechseläutenplatz Zurich

Sechseläutenplatz Zurich

Probably should have visited ETH Zurich when I was there, but I was way too tired and I do miss out on quite a few tourist attractions during my travels. All these experiences will just strengthen my trip planning in the long run. Maybe.

urinal

urinal

I don't usually take pictures of urinals, but this urinal was a, dryer, hand washer, soap emitter, and toilet all in one. And it's also free! unlike some other public toilets in Switzerland.

Exterior of the hidden toilet

Exterior of the hidden toilet

One man band, and another good singer in the background 


more views of Zurich

more views of Zurich

More strolling around zurich

carpark

Really nice ramping carpark - carpark city haha

holistic view

holistic view


The next day.. early morning (10 AM)

Inside the cocoon shown earlier

Inside the cocoon shown earlier

Roger Federer donated this tree for this office building

Roger Federer donated this tree for this office building

Top Level

Top Level

Mid Level

Mid Level

Lower Level  

Lower Level

 

Roger Federer donated this tree for the office building,which is currently empty and curated by a company called Livit. We got to know the Livit guy and he let us into this private office building. The reason the building is still empty is because it was too expensive to rent out(100 million Francs or some crazy number as I recall) The design of this building was really nice, it's a pity that this building isn't in use. Then again if it were occupied, then there would be no way we could visit this building(the cocoon).

Roof top

Roof top

Roof top view

Roof top view

Parking lot in the basement

Parking lot in the basement

The cocoon

The cocoon

This building was unexpectedly marvelous! The views on the roof top was really nice, and the interior atrium space was larger than I thought from the outside. According to the Livit guy, the parking lot below grade uses sonic waves to control waters from flooding into the building, and also to keep the underground water from permeating through the parking lot. Sounds really high tech to me!


Red Trolley

Red Trolley

Shigeru Ban structure

Shigeru Ban structure

Shigeru Ban furniture

Shigeru Ban furniture

Window Connection

Window Connection

Interior View

Interior View

Tamedia office is a sustainable building designed by pritzker prize winner Shigeru Ban. Sadly we couldn't go inside office spaces of the building, but the lobby was already really nice, and we had a sense of Shigeru Ban's design language in this building.

The timber main structural system is in great extent the most significant innovation of the project. From a technical and environmental point of view the proposed this timber structure is a unique response to this type of office building and the fact that the structural elements are entirely visible also gives a very special character and high quality spatiality to the working atmosphere.

Besides the clear contribution to sustainability on the choice of timber as the main structural material (only renewable construction material and the lowest C02 producer in construction process) the global mechanical system has been designed to meet the highest standards in energy issues(The intermediate space other its “thermal barrier” function is part of the public spaces that will be heated and cooled with the extraction air from the office area)

The project for the headquarters of the Swiss media company Tamedia is situated in the heart of the city of Zurich in a 1,000m2 site within a larger urban block where the main buildings of the group are currently located.
— http://www.archdaily.com/478633/tamedia-office-building-shigeru-ban-architects
A3.jpg

http://www.archdaily.com/478633/tamedia-office-building-shigeru-ban-architects

Obviously I didn't take these photos! The building looked like a Japanese temple while it was under construction!

Nice sculpture

Nice sculpture

That afternoon we took a bus to milan! This picture was taken during the bus urinal break view of the lower parts of the alps 

That afternoon we took a bus to milan! This picture was taken during the bus urinal break view of the lower parts of the alps 

This blog post was faster than I thought it would take, then again it was way longer than I thought. Since it was a long time ago, I assumed I would be able to curtail the details and focus on the main events of the trips, but I realized the details are what makes this trip interesting. My next blog will be about Italy, from Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, and to Sorrento ( where my smart phone fell in the water..). Judging from this blog I'm not sure if I can cover my whole Italian trip in one post. I think I might have to split the post in half. Anyways this is just a brief summary of the first four cities or towns that I've visited. I know there are some really bad pictures in this blog, but to make things fast for me I've decided not to photoshop any photos since there is too much to cover. It is currently 5 A.M, I don't know why I do this to myself, but once I start something I Just feel like finishing it. I started this blog around 1 AM so it took 4 hours to put together. Thanks for reading or just skimming through my post! For the most part I just want to document my trip, and it's kind of nice recalling back memories of the trip. Feel free to leave a comment and give me any suggestions below! Or donate money haha just kidding!

 

-Ian Liu

11/22/2015  5 A.M