The first two weeks flew by and before we knew it we were all planning out first weekend getaway. I had been talking to our RA for some ideas and she suggested we look into Bus2Alps. She knew some of the guides and she that Bus2Alps was the best travel agency to use out of Florence. We set up a meeting with two members of the Bus2Alps crew. Everyone who was interested, about 15 of us, piled into one of the rooms while the guides told us about canyon jumping, night sledding, skiing and snowboarding in Interlaken.
Ten of us were sold on the idea of a weekend trip to Switzerland. Since most of us were from Florida, the thought of seeing snow was of the upmost importance. I remember Melissa being so excited since she was a Florida native and had never seen snow before. With that being said, none of us were prepared for the cold. Each of us went out and bought leggings to wear under our pants as well as thick boots for trucking through the snow. All of our purchases came in handy in the long run since Europe has one of its harshest winters that year.
The bus ride over started at 8pm on Thursday night. The drive was not very interesting due to the darkness but I was able to see some snow as we got into the mountains. We arrived in Interlaken around 3am and went straight to bed. Everyone from FSU was in the Balmers hostel. All the girls were in once big room together in bunk beds, which as extremely convenient throughout weekend as far as figuring out plans. We decided to wake up at 8am to book our activities: night sledding for that night and canyon jumping the next morning. The rest of the day we hung out and slept to make up for what we had missed the night prior. After taking the day to relax, we went night sledding.
Night sledding was an experience in itself. Driving up the side of a mountain was to be expected, but my blood pressure still rose when I saw a steep drop on the side of the road from the window of the van. I’m not a big fan of heights. Once we arrived at the location to pick up our sleds, we took a trolley up to the trail. The trolley literally went up the side of the mountain. There were only 8 people allowed on it at once and it was pitch black outside so we were only able to make out the outline of the trees and rocks located a few hundred feet below us. I wanted to kiss the ground once we made it up to the top. Our group meet at the beginning of the trail and once the instructor showed us how to properly sled; we were free to try it ourselves.
It was so much fun. Not many people can say that they’ve been night sledding in the Alps. As the instructor pointed out, there was only “white shit” (snow) and “black shit” (rocks and trees). Snow was falling the whole time we were out which made the ride even better. The only sources of light were little glow stick necklaces that we were required to wear. Among the darkness, one could see little blinking lights and outlines of scattered bodies.
After it was over, we all went back to a restaurant that was located on the mountain to have some fondue. That night my group decided stayed in since we were waking up early on Saturday to go canyon jumping. I was surprised that I had slept Friday night due to the knot in my stomach I had about canyon jumping. I woke up with it and insisted on only eating an apple to keep myself from getting sick.
When the sun finally came up and our alarms sounded, I was excited but nervous as hell. Because I am afraid of heights, I was a little on the edge about doing the jump. However, the stories from people who had been the previous day calmed me tremendously since they said that it was amazing and worth every Euro. We were scheduled to go around 10am. At 945, my two friends came up from breakfast and announced that the canyon jump had been cancelled. I was so upset. After all that build up and anticipation, we weren’t going to go. We decided to just take our chances and wait till Sunday morning to try and go again. So Saturday we walked around Interlaken and enjoyed the sites. We went up to the top floor of a hotel to take pictures of the beautiful scenery and had hot chocolate. After that, we hung out and watched “Match Point” with some of the guides. In the evening we all went to a chocolate show that entailed learning about Swiss chocolate and how it was made. It was a really cool experience. Interlaken was a beautiful area and had a lot to offer. I recall at some point during that day having the chance to met Mr. Balmer himself! He noticed a group of us just hanging out on the couch in the common area and came over to talk. He gave each of my friends and I a “Lucky Penny” that would potentially bring us love and good fortune. I carry that coin around in my wallet to this day.
There was no point in going to sleep early since this was our last night in Interlaken. We all got ready and headed downstairs to Metro bar. The great thing about staying in Balmers was the fact that the place to be Friday and Saturday nights was just right downstairs. Metro bar was a generous sized room with a dance floor and seating area. By 11pm, bodies were packed into that place like a can sardines. It was so much fun. The environment was very relaxing so it was easy to make small talk with some of the locals and fellow travelers. It was definitely one of the best nights, and weekend trip, I’d had while in Europe.
Michelle Campbell is a student at Florida State University, and a Spring 2012 alumni of the Florida State in Florence program. Michelle will be reliving her individual travels and group travels with Bus2alps during her four months studying abroad. You can read more at her blog, http://funinfirenze2012.blogspot.com/.