Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 32-35: Interlaken, Switzerland with Bus2Alps!

Day 32 (February 28th):

"It's the BEST trip of the semeseter!", "It's wild!!", "You'll love it!!" All of these things I'd been hearing when talking to other students about their trips to Interlaken, Switzerland. Now, like my yiayia, my mom, my grandma and all the other fabulous women in my life, I am a sun goddess rather than a snow bunny. Growing up, we did ski every once in a while, and my dad always helped my brothers and I build some bad-ass snow forts, but I'd take hot sand any day of the week over cold weather. Any day. But for me, it's all about the new experience (ehem...cuddlefish sampling in Venice), so I was totally gung-ho on checking out Switzerland. It also wasn't originally on my list of "to-sees" while abroad, so that made it exciting as well.

We booked it through Bus2Alps, (check them out at Literally so easy, just book it, show up at the train station and your worries are over. No crying in the airport over your lost luggage or being stuck next to a snoring old man for hours. The people are nice, and the busses are even nicer so we decided Bus2alps was the way to go.

After a quick pizza, we headed to the Santa Maria Novella train station to meet up with the rest of the Bus2Alp'ers and get on the way. When it was time to get onto the busses, I booked it to the front like a crazed Disney mom and saved seats for all of our friends. Needless to say I was not a fan favorite, but I was cozy as could be :) Stopped in Milan after about 4 hours, and finally made it to Interlaken after 8. OH, another thing about Bus2Alps is that they KILL IT on their movie game. This may not sound important but when you're living with 24/7 italian broadcasting, a little Juno and I Love You man go a HECK of a long way.

Day 33:
Today ( Friday) woke up nice and early. While most people were partaking in their first "activities" today, Colleen, Michelle and I decided that we would explore the town first. Colleen and I both hadn't planned any activities yet, so I was hoping to get some reviews, and then choose what I wanted to do. There were tons of choices including, skiing, snowboarding, sky diving, snowshoeing, canyon jumping...the list goes on.

We grabbed our breakfast (which consisted of two slices of bread, jam and cornflakes), found a map and headed out.

Please tell me this town isn't charming your pants off. It was everything I imagined a Swiss town to be and more. North Conway's "Swiss Chalets" and various sections of story land combined and put on speed were what the actual thing was like. We then headed into the small town "center"  to do some exploring. There really wasn't all too much around. We stopped in to a chocolate shop and bought a few truffles(which were phenomenal by the way), checked out some other souvenir shops and walked around for a bit, but other than that, we didn't catch much action.

So, we headed to the train station to inquire about seeing one of the two lakes that Interlaken is sandwiched between. It was about a half hour walk to actually get to lake Brienz along a quiet and beautiful river. What suprised me the most was the water. It looked like it should have been water in the Carribean. The best description I  have is that it reminded me so much of blue gatorade. It made me wish I could be there when it got warm, because I would so love to swim in it....but looking at it was a close second :)
The train station

see....Blue gatorade!!!
Clearly, we loved it.

After our lake adventure, we took the bus back to the hostel to hang out for a bit and to grab some lunch. Turns out we had to wait over an hour because we were waiting for a bus that wasn't actually coming. Nothing a chocolate milk juicebox couldn't smooth over though.....
When we finally made it back, we went to a small cafe across the street that had bagels, fresh wraps and other American food (it is run by a New Jersey gal, afterall!). I got a greek wrap, and Michelle and Colleen got sandwiches as well. We ended our meals with a delicious white chocolate chip brownie(we walked a lot !!) . As anyone who knows me knows, I'm not a big white chocolate girl, but the texture of this brownie was unreal. Super gooey and batter-y just how I like it.
Afterward, we hung out at the hostel. Another first: My first hostel. It really wasn't what I had expected, but where we stayed (Balmers) was very clean. We had 8 people in our room, two sets of bunks pushed up next to each other, one against the wall, adjacent to another smaller room, whose bunks were built into the wall. Colleen and I had the smaller room, so I suppose I really didn't even have the full "hostel" experience. Not too much room to spread out, but it was clean, cozy, convenient and close to everything. Including the bar downstairs......(sorry mom).

Before we knew it, it was time to go "night sledding". We met outside of the hostel (see, convenient), and the instructor drove us about 20 minutes away up a mountain. Even the drive was super beautiful. We got out and recieved our sleds. I had imagined those little saucer sleds that we used to sled on at the golf course at home when we were younger. But these sleds were like mini blue plastic toboggans of death. We took a gondola ride further up the mountain, which was slightly terrifying but beautiful as well. 

The instructor handed us out glowsticks, that he instructed us to put behind us, so that people could see where we were. THAT describes how much light....or lack there of....there was. The trails were completely dark. To steer or slow down you had to stick your leg out. And most importantly, as we were told "Aim for the white shit, stay away from the black shit". Cool.

I ended up really stinking at it. I couldnt steer in time and would get stuck in embankments, which created another problem: people were so far ahead of me that I had no glowsticks to follow. Another really scary thing is that people were slamming into other people from behind. And these things moved. Luckily, I had some people in the back who were just as sucky at it as I was. We stopped to see a waterfall in the mountain, as well as some other pretty sights on the way down. Even though I was less than ideal at it, I still had a really fun time.

Afterward, Colleen, Michelle and I went to the included fondue dinner at a local resturaunt. We were seated with quite the motley crew; a mousy, awkward, quiet couple, a couple that was fighting, and their third wheel who ended up being a pretty good time. I was worried that the fondue would be like velveeta or fake nacho cheese, both of which I dislike immensely. To my pleasant suprise, it was actually really really delicious! However, we began with a really good chicken dish, with mushrooms accompanied by a glass of white wine.
Then came the fondue. Another thing that I had expected was to have all kinds of vegetables to dip into it. There actually was only bread to dip....but with bread and cheese how can you go wrong?

When we returned we checked out the bar/ club located in the basement of the hostel. Overall, it was an early night.

Day 33: High heels, I can do. But what about snow shoes?

 This morning all of our roomates were out skiing, so Colleen and I were left the sole survivors. Suprise, suprise, she's literally my siamese twin. We had been asking ourselves what we should do the whole last night, so when we woke we were kind of like "lets figure this thing out". We looked into checking out the spa, but it was obsenely expensive so we nixed that.  After ample back and forth, we decided....more like I really wanted to and Colleen go snow shoeing. It was a relatively inexpensive option, and I was hoping to do something physical so snow  shoeing was an awesome option

Same drill as yesterday: about a 20 minute ride up to the mountain, though this mountain was different than the sledding one. 
Boy did I ask for it: I wanted a physical challenge and this was it. It was about 45 minutes slightly uphill before our first break. By that time, though it was decently cold out, I was sweating absolutely profusely. Most of the groups had removed their jackets...some were even down to tee-shirts. We refueled with snickers...lovely.....and kept going. While walking around the mountain, I remember thinking "this is why I'm abroad". Everything was totally untouched and stunning. The trail was away from the hustle and bustle of the skiing trails, the only other human life was a cross country skiier every once in a while. Totally beautiful.

After our break, we really picked up the pace. There was an older couple with us, and I truthfully don't know how they survived; I was literally dying. We went up a huge mountain that took about 20 minutes, straight uphill. When we got to the top, it was totally worth it. I was huffing and puffing and sweating, but I was second up next to the instructor!

Day 35: Now, Im Freeeeeeee......Freee fallin!

The morning, I woke up freezing, excited and terrified. Today, I am going Cliff Jumping. I signed up for it on Friday knowing I would probably (most likely) chicken out if I had to sign up the day of. So at around 8, Michelle and I, and some other girls staying in our room at the hostel headed downstairs to have some coffee, and get ready to leave.
Though I'm always down to try something new, I wouldn't consider my self an "extreme" person, so needless to say I was pretty terrified. We drove up to the mountain, with our colorful instructor. One was named Ziggy, and he had huge frizzy hair longer than mine. The other had a gauge in his right ear, and offered us a bottle of tequila to share for the way up. Which he too took a few swigs of. Excellent start.

 We took a semi strenuous walk up the mountain, and after about 15 minutes reached the cliff that we would be jumping off of. I slowly worked my way over to the edge and decided : I absolutely cannot do this. The cliff lead to a small ravine with a river running under it sandwiched between two huge rock walls. No way.
I like to call this the "I'm terrfied but smile for the camera" pose


To add horrible insult to injury, just as my heart was making its way back from the bottom of the ravine and back into my body, the instructor asked us to sign this contract:
Which clearly is hysterical, but certainly didn't help to soothe my nerves. Next, we put on the harnesses, assisted by the photographer's boyfriend. Clearly he knew what he was doing, but my dad's word's repeated through my head as I got suited up "make sure those guys know what they're doing before you do anything crazy".
 Fortunately, the group we went with was totally great. Nothing brings people together than impending doom.

   We all got in line behind a rope, where the instructor stood on the small platform and hooked everyone up. After I saw the first girl go, I became a bit more confident. Her ropes didn't break, she didn't get strangled, and she didn't smash into the rocks. But yet, this cliff was HIGH. 90 meters to be exact.....for those of us who aren't on the metric brain wave: that's 295 feet. The second girl that went actually cartwheeled down the ravine. Then came Michelle and after what seemed like seconds it was my turn.
I hesitantly went over to the ledge where the instructor roped me up and I took a look at what I was about to do. When I moved over to the ledge, the heaviness of the counter weight actually almost pulled me off. Imagine that....
 With my friends cheering me on below, and a confident 1...2.......3 I took the plunge. The second I jumped off I started screaming, and after the first few seconds of the fall, the air was actually sucked out of my lungs. The rope eventually caught, and I glided smoothly through the middle of the rocks. My hands and feet were no longer numb from the cold as I checked out the ledge above me, the river below me, and my friends beside me. Ziggy tossed me a rope to pull myself in and climb up the the platform on the side.

 Here's the video of the jump:


When I pulled myself back onto the platform, I was shaky but totally invigorated. I couldn't believe that I actually jumped. Yesterday I challenged my body, and today I challenged my mind. We watched the remainder of the group jump, and then headed back down to the van. I was on a crazy adrenaline rush for the next few hours, and we ended our trip walking through a beautiful cave-like tunnel covered in icicles. Perfection. 
When we returned back to Balmers, we met up with some of our other friends, grabbed a bratwurst, and checked out the other lake which was so amazing (shocking huh?). Then we wrapped up, got on the bus and headed home.

Overall, Interlaken was an amazing weekend. I would absolutely recommend taking the Bus2Alps....get it.....Bus to the Alps.....ha...... and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Relaxation, adrenaline and great people...what more could I ask for?!


  1. Thanks for sharing such beautiful place..
    Wow! It is very nice place. Really I like it. Thanks for sharing nice blog .

    Chalet Gstaad
    Chalet Switzerland

  2. Just gotta love Interlaken!!!