If mountains could talk….

This is an entry for our Spring 2012 Why We Ride Blog ContestClick here to read the original blog post (complete with Canyon Jump video) on Michele’s blog, , as well as her other adventures while studying abroad.

Interlaken, Switzerland was easily the best weekend of my entire life.

Trust me, I have had some great vacations, holidays, nights out, and birthday parties and I never thought that one weekend in Switzerland would put all of those other amazing memories to shame, but I was mistaken.

The only downfall was the amount of money I spent, because, unlike the good ol’ United States, Switzerland has a flourishing economy.

Fun fact: Switzerland’s minimum wage is about 18 Swiss Francs, which is equivalent to almost $20 American dollars.

We went through a company called Bus2Alps, which planned everything from transportation, to accommodation, to activities around Interlaken. It was so easy, cheap, and safe. Not to mention it was a great way to meet new people :) The bus ride was around 8 hours, but our super amazing guide played good movies so it went pretty fast.

Friday morning started out like any other, I jumped off of a canyon. Let me elaborate a little. Interlaken, Switzerland is one of only three places in the entire world that you can partake in a leisurely activity known as canyon jumping. Please note my sarcasm when I say leisurely. I was originally going to stick with the cliche activity of sky diving because just like many other adventurous individuals it is on my bucket list. However, I decided to stray away from the norm when I discovered canyon jumping. This spontaneous decision can also be attributed to the fact that canyon jumping was about 400 Swiss Francs cheaper than skydiving but still provided the adrenaline rush I was craving.

We began this adventure by taking a bus up to the middle of a mountain and had to continue hiking up the rest of the way until we reached the tip top of the canyon. I chose to wear boots with little to no traction so I kept sliding back down the trail which made the excursion much more difficult than it needed to be. After slipping and sliding everywhere I finally made it to the top of the mountain and looked into the 250 foot canyon we were about to jump into.

After nearly fainting into the abyss, I strapped up and prepared myself for the 30 story free fall we were about to endure.

At this point in time, some may wonder why I was paying so much money to jump into a canyon and potentially detach from the harness and plummet into the rocks that lay at the bottom of the crevasse. At this point in time, I could honestly not figure out an answer to that question.

After my minor freak out it was my turn to go. After watching the first four girls jump off the platform, I felt I was more prepared. It was also comforting knowing that they were alive waiting for me at the bottom. I stepped on the platform, attached to a single skinny rope, prepping myself for my four second free fall. The countdown began and when I heard one my heart nearly fell to my stomach. It was now or never. I ran off the ledge and could not scream or catch my breath. At the same time, however, it was the most freeing experience. It’s ironic how free falling to your potential death really gets the adrenaline pumping. My only regret is not keeping my eyes open as I was falling through the air.

Anyone who goes to Interlaken should do this over any of the other amazing activities offered by a program called Outdoor Interlaken. Like I said before, it is only one of three places in the ENTIRE world that you can do it. The other locations are New Zealand and Nepaul. The chances of having another chance to do this are basically slim to none. Also, there have been absolutely no deaths which is always a plus, and there’s a 99.5% chance you won’t be injured. To be honest, the most dangerous part of the experience is getting to the platform itself (at least for me because my shoes were awful).

Next stop: hot chocolate. When in Switzerland, you should definitely get some Swiss hot chocolate. Anywhere you went in Interlaken the hot chocolate was outstanding. We went to this Irish Pub right by our hostel and got quite possibly the best hot chocolate any of us have ever tasted. The rest of the day we walked around Interlaken, got Tai Food (so excited to not have pasta or pizza for a change), rented our skis, and prepared for our busy day on Saturday.

Bright and early we got up and headed for the depths of the Swiss Alps. We didn’t have time for the gourmet breakfast at the hostel- aka dry croissants and muffins- so we had to find somewhere at the bottom of the mountain to get food. Walking in ski boots isn’t necessarily the easiest task so anything that looked remotely edible we got and we found our transportation to the mountain.

A bus, two trains, and a gondola ride later we finally arrived on the top of the mountain ready to begin our ski adventure in the Swiss Alps. This was another thing I have on my bucket list so it was rather exciting to put another check mark on there. I hadn’t skied in about three years, but luckily it is like riding a bike so after a few close wipe outs and almost killing a young child because of my inability to turn I got the hang of it. Fortunately no one was injured during my adjustment process and I was ready to ski the day away. It took all of about five minutes for Colleen and I to get separated from the other three girls we went with so it was just the two of us for the rest of the day and we most certainly made the most of our $200 ski day.

Mid-day we were famished so we stopped at a restaurant deep in the mountains. The only thing we could read on the menu was “hot dog and fries” so that’s what we got- for $17. Like I said, most expensive country ever. We were hoping it would

be the best hotdog of our lives since it was the price of an hour of work, but it wasn’t considering it had been inserted into a sub roll and there was more mustard than there was hotdog. What do you expect though for food on the top of a mountain? Plus, I was eating it in the middle of the Swiss Alps, how am I even going to try to complain about that?

We still had half a day left of skiing and we decided it would be best spent skiing down the ENTIRE mountain into a little Swiss Village located at the bottom. We found this amazing path that went through trees. It was

more of a relaxing run than challenging, but we were able to take in the absolutely breath-taking view that some people only dream of seeing. I was on cloud 9 the entire day because everything was so perfect. I was doing my favorite, and really the only hobby I am good at, in Switzerland, with people from all around the world, and in 50 degree weather. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. We even met a Swiss gentlemen who was telling us all about Switzerland on a 30 minute gondola ride we took back up the mountain. All in all, I have never had more of an amazing day.

If I was to choose a day on the beach or a day in the Swiss Alps, I would choose skiing any day. It’s seriously so freeing and what do you know, it even constitutes as a form of of exercise.

The day was done as soon as we reached the top of the mountain on the gondola we took up, and we had to ski all the way back down again. This was sort of a mistake on our part because we didn’t realize the mountain was closing, so we had to scurry down the whole mountain to make the trains back to Interlaken. The route we took this time was much more of a pain. When I say pain, I mean literally due to the fact that I fell into ice. What made it even worse was a little kid about 6 years old had passed over it just fine right before me so I thought all was well and good. My knee was bruised along with my ego and I was 100% ready to get back to our hostel.

All in all, my weekend in Interlaken was unforgettable. When I win the lotto I will most certainly be purchasing a winter home in the Swiss Alps somewhere where I can ski whenever I want and partake in the other millions of amazing activities they have available. Now added to my bucket list after this weekend is Canyoning and Ice Climbing. Google them :)

Ciao for now!


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