By Sarah Bilby. Bilby is currently studying abroad in Barcelona. Check out her full blog about her study abroad experience “http://sarahbilbyisnothere.tumblr.com/”
Before you start reading these next posts, I should give you a fair warning, because this past weekend in Switzerland may have been the best weekend of my life. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but still, this has to go in the top three! Read on if you dare! (Translation: read on if you have a lot of time on your hands and a lot of patience for my ramblings.)
Let’s start with the flight out on Thursday evening— I have never had an easier or more enjoyable flight than the flight to Geneva. First of all, Swiss Air is THE BEST. They gave us sandwiches and chocolate for our all of 1.5 hour trip (step it up, ‘merica!). But more importantly, the clouds were BEAUTIFUL. It felt like we were flying through a landscape of cotton candy. Unfortunately, it was too dark by the time we arrived in Geneva to see any of the landscape, but the bus ride to Interlaken was great!
We stayed at a pretty well-known hostel called Balmer’s Herberge and it is seriously way too cool. It is a quaint little hostel right about a ten minute walk from “downtown” Interlaken, filled with people from every corner of the world. There was a little water fountain outside Balmers which boasted the best spring water in the world. THEY WERE SO RIGHT. The water tasted like you could fill your lungs and breathe it in, it was so pure and clean.
The next day (Friday) we woke up fairly early (hey now, we got in at 2am, 8am is early), and went into town to withdraw Swiss Francs. From there, Chelsea, Kiana and I decided to walk down to see one of the two lakes bordering Interlaken. We followed the river down, which was gorgeous. The water was bright cerulean blue, and its color was enhanced by the minerals in the water, that made it a cloudy white-ish blue. Gosh, I am so sorry about that description. But I truly cannot do the color justice through words. Get excited for some big hand motions and freak outs when I get back home! All I wanted to do was stand there and consume as much air as I could. I suppose im doing things backwards in Interlaken, wanting to breathe the water and drink the air! The walk to the lake was about an hour and a half, and SO worth it. The lakes weren’t as chalky looking as the river, but equally blue and beautiful. Honestly, with the deep green mountains bordering it, the lake looked like part of the Harry Potter set. I half expected the Durmstrang ship from book 4 to surface at any second. Speaking of Harry Potter, there was a town called “Grindelwald” near Interlaken, so all of us Harry Potter fans were having quite the time!
So, Switzerland is famous for many things, but obviously the most important thing is chocolate (let’s be honest here, people). There was a local chocolate shop with a chocolate-making demonstration every night, which we attended, of course. The best part was the “open bar” of caramel, dark chocolate, and cherry truffles. So dangerous. I’m pretty sure I ate half my weight in chocolate in the space of the 45 minute demonstration. It was AMAZING. Afterwards, we went to a traditional Swiss restaurant, where I had a salad (don’t judge me, I was very near comatose after that chocolate!), but a few of us split fondue, which of course I had to try. I’m pretty sure all we will eat in Heaven will be Swiss bread, cheese, and chocolate. I mean, for what more can you ask, anyway?!
On Saturday, the five of us girls decided to wake up early, 7am this time (it just gets progressively earlier), to hike “Harder Kulm,” a legit mountain right on the outskirts of Interlaken. There are two routes to take, one easier, longer route, and a much harder, but shorter route. We started on the long route, and were making awful time because we stopped to take pictures so often. It was so hard to resist, okay! Each viewing point was even more breathtaking and picturesque than the last, and I’m sure everyone wanted to strangle me because of the amount of times I would say “this CANNOT be real!” Eventually, we split up into 3 groups, because Madeline and I wanted to take the more direct trail. Can I just say, HOLY WORKOUT. We were definitely moving along at a good pace, and let me tell you, there were some really steep parts to that route. It was challenging, but in a good way. You know the feeling you get when it feels like every single cell of your lungs is working? Well imagine that, except with the most delicious air ever. I know I am going on and on about the air, but really, it felt AMAZING to fill my lungs with that stuff.
Chelsea and I had to split off to go canyoning. I had no idea what canyoning was before this weekend. Basically, it is a hybrid of cliff jumping, rock climbing, hiking, and water-sliding, all through the mountain rivers. We signed up for the easiest excursion, and it was AMAZING. Our group of 12 rappelled down boulders, jumped down (small) waterfalls, marched through semi-rapids, and walked alongside the river for about 3 hours. The people in our group were so fantastic. Our leaders, Mustard and Stan, were so great, and I’m pretty sure they could throw me 50 feet with one arm.
When we returned from canyoning, we met up with the other 3 girls and had a delicious dinner of more cheese and bread (don’t lie, I know you’re jealous!). Afterwards, while looking into other activities for Sunday, a parade of milk cows comes right by the hostel window, accompanied by people in traditional Swiss clothing. It was HILARIOUS. None of us knew what was happening, but it was great. We returned for another fabulous night at the Metro Bar.