Featured Blogger – February 18, 2011

Our first featured Bus2alps Blogger of the Spring 2011 Semester is Samantha of the AIFS program. Samantha came to Interlaken with Bus2alps in the beginning of February where she learned just why Bus2alps lives here. Selected parts of Samantha’s blog are highlighted below. To read the full entry for “Roasty’s and Deadly Mario Kart” click here.


Switzerland was our first official European trip that wasn’t organized (London) or forced (Siena) by our program, AIFS.  Instead, we went through a program that arranges transportation and lodging for students studying in Europe.  They just made everything easy- check in, check out, rooming- everything.  The company is called Bus2Alps but they arrange bus trips to the Almafi Coast to Greece and various other destinations as well, not just the alps.

We arrived at the Backpackers Villa Hostel Friday morning at 3:30 am (we left Florence at about 7:30pm).  We got our room assignments and straight up hit the hay.  My knowledge of a hostel pre-Interlacken was this: metal bunks beds filling a room with bad carpeting, tall creepy bleach blonde Sweeds and Germans bunking co-ed, shower stalls and toliets at the end of the hallways, creepy lighting and a constant fear that my ipod would go missing.  Now, I don’t know about all of you who have gone to Interlacken and stayed at Balmer’s Hostel, the more famous one with the club in the basement, but this is what our hostel looked like.
Just the four of us in a room, bed linens provided, only one bunk bed, no Sweeds and a shower and toilet in our room.  Pretty much the Marriott compared to what I had in mind.
Later we had night sledding so we stopped in to pick out snow pants, a waterproof jacket, and ski gloves.
We got on the night sledding van and headed twenty minutes up a mountain near by in the pitch black.  Key phrases: “up a mountain” and “pitch black”.  We were informed that in order to get to the restaurunt, where we would be getting our sleds and returning to once the festivities were over,  we had to take a Gondola up the mountain. A tiny bit more settling being that my biggest concern, never having skied or been on a snowy mountain before, was how the hell am I going to manage to get off the lift thingy so I don’t die.  Luckily this little box comes to a complete stop, fully equipped with a Swiss man to help me off once we got there.  When we arrived outside the destination we got our sleighs and continued 20 more minutes up the mountain.  It was so dark the only thing you could see was the snow.  Well aware of this, the counselors gave us glow sticks that hang on a rope for us to wear as a back necklace.  A back necklace means wearing it the most fashionable way for your back so that the people behind you can see if there was someone in front of them, in case you get lost or are about to crash.  They started us off at the same point like the Grand Prix which was very nerve wracking because I knew there was a good chance I would be run over. My original thought was that we would be going down the face of a mountain (big hill) like the ones at Grant Park, you know, like the ones you see people skiing on in movies.  No No, this was a full fledge sled drive down the icy winding Swiss Alps.  Terrifying! And what made it even worse was that to one side of the winding path was the mountain wall covered in snow, perhaps a few trees, but if your sled were to slide a bit to the left, you were over a cliff and dead before you even hit the first tree.  It was like being in live version of MarioKart on the icy board, but it was pitch black and there was no little turtle on a cloud to fish you back up to the track after you fall down.  And there are two ways to break; putting a soft foot in the snow steers you in the direction of the foot you put down (ie: left foot in the snow, sled moves left), putting both feet in the snow slows your sled to a stop, and for emergency stops, you just roll off.  I took advantage of the emergency stop.  There were times that I thought for sure I was going over the side of the mountain so i catapulted my body into the snow to save my own life.  But seriously it was that dramatic, and a work out too! the insides of my knees were sore for at least two days because if the path came to too much of a plateau, you had to shimmy to the next slope or get up and walk over grassy patches.  The whole “racetrack” (not really, but seriously) was about a 5K in marathon terms, overall taking about 45 minutes, for me an hour.  As scary as it was it was beyond exhilarating and at times where I was behind most of the group but way ahead of a few, it was really pretty and peaceful being with just the stars and the snow (it was the only two things I could make out in the dark).  The end of the trail led us back to the restaurant where we would be served fondue, dinner and a complimentary pitcher of beer.  The fondue was yummy but the smell of cheese was overwhelming, I enjoyed it nonetheless.  The dinner was my favorite part.  We were made aware that we were being served a traditional Swiss dinner called a Roasty.  It’s not actually called “Roasty” but that’s what it sounded like they were saying and when I tried to Google it, only articles on “roasty and toasty lodge…blah blah blah dinner” so I am still unaware of what it is called in the ugly Dutch German French mishagosh language they use there BUT, a roasty is a pile of hash browns with a sunny side up egg on the top.  In essence, what I get every time I go to the diner.  It was delicious and I enjoyed it very much.

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